Possible Link Between Mono and Hodgkin’s

While doctors say there is an association between infectious mononucleosis and Hodgkin’s disease, they have been unsure whether the risk is causal. A new study sheds some light on the development of the issue.

Infectious mononucleosis can be caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). Previous research has suggested infectious mononucleosis-related EBV increases the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in young adults. A new study from Denmark and Sweden further investigates the connection. Researchers compared the incidence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Danish patients who had mono. About 17,000 tested positive for EBV and nearly 25,000 did not. They were compared with 21,000 Swedish patients who had mono.

Researchers found 55 percent of patients with mono had EBV. They write, “There was no evidence of an increased risk of EBV-negative Hodgkin’s lymphoma after infectious mononucleosis. In contrast, the risk of EBV-positive Hodgkin’s lymphoma was significantly increased.”

The cause of Hodgkin’s lymphoma is largely unknown and researchers are optimistic about this latest finding. They don’t want anyone with mono to assume they will develop Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The risk is minimal — one in 1,000 — and the doctors say other factors must be in effect for EBV to lead to Hodgkin’s lymphoma.