Reserch Finds Those with Most Severe Form of Rheumatoid Arthritis Are at Far Greater Risk of Developing Lymphoma

A new study from Sweden found that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, with the most severe form of the disease, are some 70 times (7000%) more likely to develop lymphoma than patients with a mild form of the disease.

The data from this study offer strong evidence that the elevated lymphoma risk among RA patients is linked to the disease rather than to the medications used to treat it.

Drugs like Enbrel, Remicade, Humira and others may, in fact, reduce the chances of developing lymphoma in high-risk patients because they reduce inflammation.

The report published in the March 2006 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism states; “Conventional medical treatment to suppress and alleviate disease activity is not by itself a risk factor for lymphoma.”

People with RA are about twice as likely to develop lymphoma, as those without the disease.

The research team was led by Dr. Eva Baecklund and analyzed data from a Swedish national registry of nearly 75,000 RA patients. They compared 378 RA patients diagnosed with lymphoma between 1964 and 1995 to 378 RA patients without lymphoma of the same age, time of RA diagnosis, and place of residence.

Although patients with moderate RA were eight times more likely to develop lymphoma than patients with mild RA, the figure jumped to 70 times greater when the subject sffered from severe RA.

At this point, the manner in which the virus enters the body is a matter of speculation. It might be sexually transmitted in the first instance after which it causes chronic inflammation of the prostate, which eventually leads to cancer. The mechanism could be similar to the way in which the human papillomavirus (HPV) triggers cervical cancer.

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