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Risk Factors for Hodgkin Lymphoma

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Risk Factors for Hodgkin Lymphoma

A risk factor is something that increases a person's chances of getting a disease or health problem.

A person can have Hodgkin lymphoma with or without the risks below. The more risks a person has, the greater the chances are.

Hodgkin lymphoma is slightly more common in males. It most often affects people 15 to 35 years old and those over 55 years old. It is more common in White, Black, and Hispanic persons.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Past mononucleosis (mono) infection —Mono is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). EBV remains in the body even after symptoms have passed. People who have EBV have a higher risk for lymphoma than those who do not have EBV. However, many people have EBV and do not develop lymphoma. Also, not all people with lymphoma have EBV.
  • Family history—The risk is greatest for those with a same-gender sibling with Hodgkin lymphoma. This risk can be up to 10 times higher than in the average person.
  • Medical conditions—A weak immune system can raise the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma. Certain health problems weaken the immune system. Examples are HIV infection or autoimmune diseases.
  • Smoking—Smoking affects every cell in the body. It raises the risk of developing cancer cells. Smoking also weakens the immune system. This makes it hard to fight cancer.
  • Exposure—Certain chemicals may raise the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma. One example is pesticides—used to get rid of unwanted insects, plants, or animals.


  • Adult Hodgkin lymphoma treatment (PDQ)—patient version. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/patient/adult-hodgkin-treatment-pdq. Accessed January 28, 2021.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: http://www.lls.org/lymphoma/hodgkin-lymphoma?src1=20045&src2=. Accessed January 28, 2021.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114957/Hodgkin-lymphoma-HL. Accessed January 28, 2021.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma risk factors. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html. Accessed January 28, 2021.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.