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Incidental Lymphopenia Linked to Increased Risk for Mortality

Higher risk seen for all-cause, cancer, and CV, respiratory, and infectious disease mortality

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MONDAY, Jan. 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Incidental lymphopenia is associated with an increased risk for all-cause and cause-specific mortality, according to a study published in the Jan. 13 issue of CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Marie Warny, M.D., from the Herlev and Gentofte Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues followed 108,135 participants enrolled in the Copenhagen General Population Study and examined the associations between lymphopenia and all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Risks were modeled for participants with a lymphocyte count <2.5th percentile, between the 2.5th and the 97.5th percentile (reference category), and >97.5th percentile.

The researchers noted that 10,372 participants died during a median follow-up of nine years. Participants with lymphopenia had higher mortality than those in the reference category, with multivariable adjusted hazard ratios of 1.63 for all causes; 1.67 and 2.79 for nonhematologic and hematologic cancers, respectively; 1.88, 1.88, and 1.86 for cardiovascular, respiratory, and infectious diseases, respectively; and 1.50 for other causes. The highest absolute two-year risks for all-cause mortality were seen in women and men who smoked and who were aged 80 years or older with lymphocyte counts <0.5 × 109/L (61 and 75 percent, respectively). Increased mortality was seen with a lymphocyte count greater than the reference category (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.17).

"Using the absolute two-year risks of all-cause mortality, physicians can identify high-risk individuals with lymphopenia (e.g., smokers aged more than 60 years) who might benefit from additional surveillance," the authors write.

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