To determine whether non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is related to prior medication use or health history, a population-based case-control study was conducted. A total of 619 male and female residents of Los Angeles County who were diagnosed with NHL between January 1, 1979, and June 30, 1982, were compared to individually age-, race-, and sex-matched neighborhood controls with regard to history of use of 49 different medications, 47 chronic and infectious diseases or other conditions, 15 types of immunizations, and 15 specific allergic reactions. Based on preliminary analyses, long-term regular use of aspirin and other pain relievers and ≥2 mo of treatment with penicillin and other antibiotics were associated with significantly increased risk of NHL. Other drugs associated with greater risk of NHL were use of digitalis and estrogen replacement therapy by women, use of corticosteroids, and ≥2 mo of use of tranquilizers. NHL was strongly associated with a prior history of cancer. Cases more frequently reported histories of kidney infections and anemia than did controls; a history of eczema appeared to be protective against NHL. Women who had been immunized against polio by injectable vaccine were at significantly lower risk of NHL than women who had not received this immunization. Among men, cholera immunization and allergy to nuts and berries were significantly protective. Subjects who had received a yellow fever immunization also had lower NHL risk. Further analyses of these data will attempt to establish the relative importance of these potential risk factors and to determine whether any are markers of early symptoms of NHL.


Presented at the National Cancer Institute Workshop, “The Emerging Epidemic of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Current Knowledge Regarding Etiological Factors,” October 22–23, 1991, Bethesda, MD.


This study was supported by Grants CA24082, CA19449, and CA17054 from the NIH.

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