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Risk of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in allergic disease

Published online: November 12, 2019

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that originates in white blood cells called lymphocytes. It is the most common cancer in teenagers and young adults worldwide. Many conditions that interfere with immune regulation are known to increase the risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but the effect of immune system malfunction from allergic disease on Hodgkin’s lymphoma risk is poorly understood.

In a new article recently published in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI), Rafiq and colleagues explore if individuals with a history of allergic disease (asthma, eczema or allergic rhinitis) are at an increased risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and whether steroid therapy plays a role.

They used UK nationwide data from primary care electronic health records (the CPRD database) linked to hospital records of over 8,500 patients (1,236 cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma / 7,416  controls). The researchers analyzed the association between allergic diseases and Hodgkin’s lymphoma after adjusting for established risk factors such as immunosuppression and history of glandular fever, and accounting for steroid treatment.

The authors found that individuals with a previous diagnosis of allergic disease, especially eczema, were significantly more likely to develop Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The risk increased with an increasing number of allergic diagnoses. This association appeared be independent of history of  steroid treatment, although previous steroid use also increased risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma, independent of allergic disease status.

The authors’ findings suggest that allergic disease and steroid use are risk factors for developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These findings add to the growing evidence that immune system malfunction, following allergic disease or immunosuppression, is central to Hodgkin’s lymphoma developement and allergic disease in childhood may increase the future risk of developing blood-related cancers.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

Graphical Abstract