What is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

What is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

The Mayo Clinic defines Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as “a type of cancer that begins in your lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s germ-fighting immune system. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, white blood cells called lymphocytes grow abnormally and can form growths (tumors) throughout the body.”

A blood cancer, there are more than 90 types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and approximately 82,000 people are diagnosed with NHL each year in the United States. Any lymphoma that is not chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) or does not involve the Reed-Sternberg cells is classified as a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

To differentiate, Hodgkin’s lymphoma(HL) involves the Reed-Sternberg cells, and there are five types of HL. Reed-Sternberg cells are large, abnormal lymphocytes, which is a type of white blood cell, that may contain more than one nucleus.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma commonly begins in the body’s B cells or T cells, and determining where your NHL originates helps determine treatment options.

Symptoms of NHL

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chills
  • Lack of energy
  • Itching

Since these are common symptoms of many other illnesses, and can often be mistaken as the flu, it’s important to be examined by a doctor in order to rule out lymphoma as the cause.

Risk Factors for NHL

  • Immune-suppressing medications, such as those taken after an organ transplant
  • Certain viral and bacterial infections, like HIV and Epstein-Barr.
  • Certain chemicals used to kill insects and weeds, such as Roundup
  • Risk increases with age

Connection Between Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the Herbicide Roundup®

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup that is thought to be carcinogenic. The EPA is still reviewing data on the herbicide to determine whether it is harmful or not, however courts have taken up Roundup lawsuits and have been awarding damages to people who blame Roundup for their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Roundup is still available in 130 countries and is approved for 100 different kinds of crops.

In 1996, Monsanto began marketing “Roundup Ready” seeds for various crops that were genetically modified to be immune to glyphosate. As a result, glyphosate use by farmers increased as much as triple what they were using. By 2016, glyphosate use increased nearly 15-fold. A 2019 study in the journal Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research reported a link between long-term, high-use exposure to glyphosate and a 41 percent increase in the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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