The worldwide increase in the incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) over the past century is largely unexplained. Current epidemiologic evidence suggests a role in the etiology of the disease for organochlorine compounds, such as the pesticide DDT and the industrial chemicals polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and for the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). The risks associated with high blood/adipose levels of organochlorines have ranged from two to four-fold. It is well established that EBV plays a causal role in many cases of NHL among patients who are immune suppressed, and the few studies assessing EBV in apparently normal populations have also shown that altered EBV antibody patterns are associated with NHL. Finally, strong statistically significant multiplicative interactions between EBV and organochlorines on the risk of NHL have been reported, with odds ratios as high as 22 for the high PCB/elevated EBV antibodies group compared to the low PCBs/Iow EBV antibodies group. All of the previous studies have been small and need to be replicated in other populations. We propose to utilize two large well-characterized collections of archived blood samples - the Nurses' Health Study, a study of women, and the Physician's Health Study, a study of men - to prospectively address the role of organochlorines and EBV and their potential interaction in the occurrence of NHL. We anticipate 400 incident cases in the combined study population, and we will match each case with two controls who had the same opportunity for development of disease. We will collect pathologic specimens and subtype each case using standard procedures, allowing us to evaluate whether these associations are specific to particular types of NHL. The vast resources of the two cohorts will allow us to assess possible confounders and effect modifiers, including but not limited to, gender and diet. This proposal is led by an experienced team of researchers who have expertise over a range of disciplines that inform this study, Together, we should gain substantial insight into the role of organochlorines and EBV in NHL.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
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Epidemiology and Disease Control Subcommittee 2 (EDC)
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Verma, Mukesh
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Brigham and Women's Hospital
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