TUESDAY, Oct. 19, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- People infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) are six times as likely to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) than people who aren't infected with HCV.
So says a Canadian study presented Oct. 17 at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Seattle.
People with HCV have 17 times greater risk of developing diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, the most common form of NHL, the study said. B-cell lymphoma accounts for about 30 percent of all NHL cases.
Researchers examined the HCV status of 550 people with NHL and 205 healthy control subjects.
"People who have been exposed to the virus comprise a high-risk group for developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, particularly diffuse B-cell lymphoma," principal investigator John Spinelli, a cancer researcher at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, said in a prepared statement.
Previous studies in Canada and the United States did not find an association between HCV and NHL.
About 3.8 million Americans are infected with HCV. About 53,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with HCV in 2003, and 23,000 people died from the disease. In the past, blood transfusion was the most common means of infection. Currently, it's most often transmitted among drug users who share needles.
The U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases has more about hepatitis C.