A lack of physical activity may increase the risk of both Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) regardless of other lifestyle- or health-related risk factors, according to a study published in Leukemia Research.

Studies assessing the impact of physical activity — a variable associated with decreased risk among various cancers — have returned mixed results, leading investigators to study the potential impact of physical inactivity.

For this case control study, researchers evaluated data from 87 patients with HL and 236 patients with NHL in the Patient Epidemiology Data System (PEDS), matched at a 1:4 case-control ratio to a cancer-free control population. Patients completed the PEDS questionnaire to provide investigators with a fuller picture of patients’ physical activity level and additional variables such as body mass index (BMI), family history of lymphoma, and smoking.

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Results demonstrated that lower levels of physical activity were significantly associated with an increased risk of developing HL and NHL.

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Further multivariate analyses that took into consideration patient age, BMI, and smoking status returned statistically significant confirmatory data that an elevated risk of HL/NHL is associated with physical inactivity.

The authors concluded that “as the body of evidence supporting these associations continues to grow, further large, prospective studies specifically designed to evaluate physical inactivity should be conducted to confirm these results and investigate for similar associations in other cancer types.”


Etter JL, Cannioto R, Soh KT, et al. Lifetime physical inactivity is associated with increased risk of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a case-control study [published online March 27, 2018]. Leuk Res.  doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2018.03.014