Higher body weight and increased height during adolescence increase the risk for developing certain subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), according to a study published in the journal Cancer.1

Because the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma has risen worldwide, researchers sought to assess whether weight and height of adolescents are associated with cancer risk.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 2 352 988 Israeli adolescents who were examined between 1967 and 2011. Of those, 4021 developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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Results showed that adolescent overweight and obesity were associated with a 25% higher likelihood of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma compared with normal weight persons (HR, 1.25; 95% CI: 1.13-1.37; P=.0000114). Researchers also found that adolescents in the 95th height percentile were 28% more likely to develop cancer than those between the 25th to 50th percentiles.

The study demonstrated that marginal zone lymphoma, primary cutaneous lymphoma, and DLBCL had the strongest associations for overweight and obesity, while DLBCL and primary cutaneous lymphoma had the strongest for height.

These findings ultimately supporting the increasing body of evidence that higher body weight and height during adolescence contribute to the risk and increasing incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“Obesity and overweight during adolescence are risk factors for future non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” said Merav Leiba, MD, of Sheba Medical Center in Israel, and lead author. “It is important to be aware that overweight and obesity are not risk factors only for diabetes and cardiovascular disease but also for lymphomas.”2


1. Leiba M, Leiba A, Keinan-Boker L, et al. Adolescent weight and height are predictors of specific non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes among a cohort of 2,352,988 individuals aged 16 to 19 years [published online ahead of print February 22, 2016]. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.29792.

2. Weight and height during adolescence may impact future risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma [news release]. EurekAlert! website. February 22, 2016. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/w-wah021716.php. Accessed February 22, 2016.