This piece is a couple of weeks old, and I really hesitate to post it (which is why I added all the questions marks), but the Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Center highlights a couple of recent studies that suggest some risk factors for Follicular Lymphoma.
Before we proceed, let me rem/ind you:
Even the best study of lymphoma risk factors is imperfect, and if there was a clear and definite link between certain factors and lymphoma, you would have heard about them two weeks ago on CNN and Fox, and not on this blog. So take what you read with a "Hmm, interesting," rather than a "Well, I guess I better go start smoking."
Yes, smoking: that's a risk factor. According to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, exposure to cigarette smoke as a child might increase the risk of Follicular Lymphoma, but might decrease the risk of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma.
And in a study from the Annals of Oncology, it was found that Body Mass Index (a measure of height and weight that can identify obesity) showed that there is no association between BMI and lymphoma survival. In other words, fat people didn't fare any worse than skinny people when they get lymphoma. This seems to contradict some previous research.
So, good news for me on the obesity -- I haven't run in about 3 months. The smoking thing? Maybe I can rationalize that one as reducing my risk of transforming? After all, exposure to smoking might give you Follicular Lymphoma, but not DLBCL, right?
No, no, no. Of course not.
And that's the problem with studies like this. It's too easy to make false associations. And unfortunately, that often happens in media reports about cancer risk factors. Thank goodness, this particular report didn't do that, and they deserve all credit for that.
But consider this post a warning about just that sort of thing. It's too easy to get excited about good things you read, and horrified about bad things. Especially during those times when we're emotionally vulnerable, which happens to all of us. We need to remember to just slow down. Relax. Smoke a cigarette. Eat a whole box of Twinkies. It's not like it's going to kill you or anything.....
Seriously -- read widely, but critically. Don't just pick and choose the stuff that tells you what you want to hear. At the very least, if you come across something that gets you overly excited or depressed, at least talk to your doctor.
And if she tells you that you have good reason to worry, or to get excited, than let me know. I'll be happy to share it with everyone.