Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Causes and risk factors

What causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

No specific cause has been identified.

What are the risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas?

Suggested risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas include the following:

  • Genetic disease of the immune system.
  • Unprotected exposure to strong sunlight. 
  • Smoking. 
  • Environmental factors such as radiation, chemicals and infections. 
  • Organ transplantation. 
  • Infections with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus (HTLV-1). 
  • History of infectious mononucleosis – caused by an infection with the Epstein-Barr virus. 
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium, which has been identified as a cause of stomach ulcers.