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Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) is a cancer that affects part of the immune system called the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues, vessels and organs that work to move a colorless, watery fluid called lymph back into your circulatory system (bloodstream). This network contains checkpoints that filter out substances from the lymph. These checkpoints are referred to as lymph nodes and they contain immune cells called lymphocytes. These lymphocytes are white blood cells that remove bacteria and viruses. NHL primarily affects the lymphocytes that reside in the lymph nodes of the lymphatic system.

Mothballs Save Clothes, Not Health

A 2004 study found that mothball use is significantly associated with NHL risk and that use of pesticides at home increased NHL risk by 62%.

Risk Factors

Risk factors are important to address even after a diagnosis of cancer as well because research has found that some risk factors can continue to cause damage and create stress on the body that may promote progression of some cancers (for example, smoking has been shown to be a risk factor for cancer progression in those with lung cancer).

Risk factors of NHL include:

  • Various toxins - eg. exposure to lindane in some pesticides; use of mothballs

  • Infections (Eg. H Pylori, hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr virus)

  • Chronic inflammation

  • Genetics (modest impact)

New Risk Factors Being Explored:

There are a number of associations with NHL that have been found by research that are currently being further explored, such as:

  • Trichloroethylene exposure (PVCs, dyes, resin, varnish)

  • Occupational chemical exposures (farmers, hairdressers, welders, printing press workers, forestry and rubber industry workers)

  • Obesity

  • Benzene exposure (smoking, glues, adhesives, cleaning products, paint strippers, etc)

How Can Naturopathic Medicine Help?

  • Address exposure to NHL risk factors such as toxins, chemicals and infections

  • Assess current use of supplements - some supplements have some negative evidence and caution is warranted. For example, supplements that stimulate the immune system may also stimulate cancerous immune cells and may be contraindicated or interact with other medications.

  • Dietary and lifestyle approaches to correct any nutritional deficiencies and support healing of the body - some studies have found certain nutrients are associated with improved overall survival

  • Use of supporting therapies that have been shown in studies to help reduce side effects of conventional therapies



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