FRIDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, those who smoked, drank alcohol or were obese before receiving their diagnosis are more likely to die of the disease than others, researchers say.
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For example, patients who smoked for at least 20 years are 76% more likely to die than those who never smoked. And obese patients -- those who are a step beyond overweight -- are 32% more likely to die than those of normal weight, according to the new study, led by Dr. James Cerhan, a cancer epidemiologist with the Mayo Clinic.
Alcohol use also boosts the risk of death, although drinking seems to actually lower the risk that people will develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in the first place, the study authors noted.
"This now raises the hypothesis that changing these behaviors after diagnosis might improve survival, but this needs to be tested in a clinical study," Cerhan said in a news release. "In the meantime, patients in active therapy should discuss any lifestyle changes with their health-care provider. Long-term survivors outside of therapy should consider the general public health guidelines that recommend smoking cessation, moderate or no alcohol use, and attaining a healthy weight."
The researchers came to their conclusions after studying 1,286 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients from several states. The patients completed health surveys shortly after they were diagnosed between 1998 and 2008, and they had recorded information about their height and weight a year before they were diagnosed.
By 2007, 34% of the patients had died, according to the report released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Cancer.
-- Randy Dotinga
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SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, May 2010, news release.
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