Researchers report new evidence linking a common virus to Hodgkin’s disease.
Nancy Mueller and her colleagues at the Harvard University School of Public Health found people whose blood contained active Epstein-Barr virus or EBV appeared much more likely to go on to develop Hodgkin’s disease.
Previous studies had found people who had had mononucleosis, which is caused by EBV, were at increased risk for Hodgkin’s disease, a relatively unusual cancer of the lymph nodes. Studies also found Hodgkin’s patients tended to have high levels of antibodies to EBV.
But researchers were uncertain whether these findings indicated that the virus played a role in causing the disease or whether the virus simply became active after patients developed the disease.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers examined blood drawn from 43 people an average of about four years before their conditions were diagnosed as Hodgkin’s and blood drawn from another 96 people about the same time who never developed the disease.
Those who had high levels of antibodies to EBV when their blood was drawn were about three to four times as likely to go on to develop Hodgkin’s disease, the researchers found.