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For most people with NHL, a cause is never found. But there are factors that are known to increase the risk of developing NHL. Most people who develop NHL don’t have any of these, though.
Here are some of the known risk factors for NHL:
Being exposed to some viruses or bacteria can increase the risk of developing some types of NHL.
The Epstein Barr virus (EBV), which causes glandular fever, may slightly increase the risk of developing lymphoma. However, EBV is very common in the UK and very few people go on to develop NHL because of it. The risk of EBV causing NHL is highest in people who are on long-term treatment to suppress their immune system after an organ transplant.
Another virus called the Human T-cell leukaemia/lymphoma virus (HTLV-1) can cause a type of lymphoma called Adult T-cell leukaemia/lymphoma (ATLL). But, both the HTLV-1 virus and the type of lymphoma it causes are very rare in the UK.
NHL isn’t infectious and can’t be passed on to other people.
Content last reviewed: 1 April 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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