The effect of atopy, childhood crowding, and other immune-related factors on non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk

W. Cozen, J. R. Cerhan, O. Martinez-Maza, M. H. Ward, M. Linet, J. S. Colt, S. Davis, R. K. Severson, P. Hartge, L. Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Objective: Since adult immune responsiveness is influenced by early childhood exposures, we examined the role of family size, history of atopic disease, and other childhood immune-related exposures in a multi-center case-control study of NHL. Methods: Interviews were completed with 1,321 cases ascertained from population-based cancer registries in Seattle, Detroit, Los Angeles and Iowa, and with 1,057 frequency-matched controls, selected by random-digit dialing and from the Medicare files database. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate risk. Results: A history of any allergy (excluding drug allergies), decreased risk of all NHL (Odds Ratio [OR] = 0.7, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 0.6-1.0), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma [DLBCL] (OR = 0.6, 95% CI = 0.4-0.9), and follicular NHL (OR = 0.7, 95 CI = 0.5, 1.0). A similar effect was observed for hay fever. A history of eczema was associated with an increased risk of follicular lymphoma (OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.1-3.4), but not DLBCL (OR = 1.1, 95% CI = 0.6-2.0). Asthma did not affect risk. Youngest compared to oldest siblings had a 90% increased risk of DLBCL (95% CI = 1.2-3.1; p for trend with increasing birth order = 0.006), but not follicular lymphoma (OR = 1.1, 95% CI = 0.6-1.8). Conclusions: We infer that some childhood and immune-related factors may alter NHL risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-831
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Allergy
  • Atopy
  • Birth order
  • Childhood Exposures
  • Immune response
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Sibship size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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