A study conducted at the Northern California Cancer Centre in Fremont and published in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology found that using antibiotics more than 10 times in childhood or being a “heavy” user of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increases the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).
Prior studies to determine if there is any association between the use of certain medications and the increase in NHL cases have proven to be inconclusive except with respect to powerful immunosuppressive drugs. Since many medical conditions themselves are linked to NHL, it was also difficult to determine if those conditions or the medications used to treat them were associated with the NHL.
The current study used data from the Scandinavian Lymphoma Etiology Study, which involved 3,055 NHL patients as well as the records of 3,187 healthy subjects from Denmark and Sweden.
While there was a “striking” association between antibiotic use and NHL for all subtypes of the disease, heavy NSAID use increased the overall risk of NHL and of diffuse large B-cell NHL and not any other type of NHL.
If the link between antibiotic use and NHL is borne out by further studies, the significant increase in the use of antibiotics could offer an explanation for the increase in NHL cases.