Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Prevention


Although there is no safe way known to prevent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), limiting exposure to certain chemicals and drugs, avoiding certain viral infections, and avoiding radiation exposure may reduce the risk of NHL.


There is no known safe way to prevent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). These lymphomas cannot be prevented because most people with NHL do not have risk factors that need to be changed. However, individuals can reduce the risk of NHL by limiting the risk of certain infections and maintaining a healthy immune system. A few risk factors that can be avoided to prevent NHL​1​ are mentioned below.

Avoiding viral infection

HIV is a virus that causes aids and also increases the rise of NHL. Therefore, one way to limit the risk is to avoid infection with HIV by following various safety measures such as avoiding using used syringes or having unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Prevention of the spread of the human T-cell lymphocyte virus (HTLV-1) may significantly reduce the risk for NHL in regions of the world where the virus is prevalent.

Gastric lymphomas is responsible for H. pylori infection. Antibiotics and antacids can prevent the adverse effect of H. pylori. This helps reduce the risk for NHL too. However, the re is no clear evidence till date concerning the benefits of this strategy.

Avoiding exposure to certain chemicals and drugs

Some research studies have suggested that increased risk of NHL may be associated with chemicals such as benzene and some pesticides (insect-killing chemicals) and herbicides (weed-killing chemicals). Therefore, avoiding exposure to such chemicals may reduce the risk of NHL.

Some chemotherapy medicines used to treat other cancers may increase the risk of developing NHL years later. For example, patients treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma have an increased risk of developing NHL later in life. However, whether this is due to the chemotherapy effect or the disease itself is not fully understood. In addition, the benefits of this treatment usually outweigh the low risk of developing lymphoma years later.

Avoiding exposure to Radiation

Studies of nuclear bomb survivors and people exposed to nuclear reactors have shown an increased risk of developing various cancers, including NHL. Risk of increasing or developing later NHL is slightly higher in patients being treated with radiotherapy for certain other cancers, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma 3. Patients treated with a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy are however higher at risk. Therefore, avoiding radiation exposure may reduce the risk of NHL​2,3​.


  1. 1.
    Mead G, Whitehouse J. Modern management of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1986;293(6547):577-580. doi:10.1136/bmj.293.6547.577
  2. 2.
    Rock CL, Thomson C, Gansler T, et al. American Cancer Society guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA A Cancer J Clin. Published online June 9, 2020:245-271. doi:10.3322/caac.21591
  3. 3.
    Armitage JO, Gascoyne RD, Lunning MA, Cavalli F. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The Lancet. Published online July 2017:298-310. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(16)32407-2