Smoking, obesity, alcohol affect survival of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients

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Washington, May 14 (ANI): People with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma-who smoked, consumed alcohol or were obese before their cancer diagnosis-had poorer overall survival, as compared to patients who did not have these risk factors, a new study found.

The finding by researchers from Mayo Clinic in collaboration with six other U.S. institutions, was made after accounting for clinical and demographic factors, and also when considering only deaths due to this kind of lymphoma.

For example, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients with a 20-plus-year history of smoking had a 76 percent higher risk of death compared to never smokers; patients who consumed more than 43 grams of alcohol per week had a 55 percent higher risk of death compared to nondrinkers; and obese patients (defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher) had a 32 percent higher risk of death compared to patients with normal weight for their height.

While smoking and obesity had already been found to increase the risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, this is the first U.S. study to look at their role on survival after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the researchers say.

For alcohol, the researchers found that use was associated with poorer survival, which is opposite of the effect for developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, where alcohol appears to lower risk.

The findings mirror conclusions found in three smaller studies, according to the study's lead investigator, Dr. James Cerhan.

These are the first data from North American patients, and the only study to simultaneously look at all three lifestyle factors, he said.

"This now raises the hypothesis that changing these behaviors after diagnosis might improve survival, but this needs to be tested in a clinical study. In the meantime, patients in active therapy should discuss any lifestyle changes with their health care provider. Long-term survivors outside of therapy should consider the general public health guidelines that recommend smoking cessation, moderate or no alcohol use, and attaining a healthy weight," he added.

"It is important to note that patients who had quit smoking 20 years or more before diagnosis had no higher risk of death than patients who had never smoked," said Cerhan.

The study was published in a recent online edition of Cancer. (ANI)

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