From 1950 to 2000, the global incidence of lymphoma tripled, and doctors don’t know why.
It happened in our neck of the woods too. Now joint Israeli-Palestinian research has isolated a number of risk factors involved in B-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma that had not been previously recognized – some shared by Israelis and Palestinians, some unique to each group. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas are tumors that originate in our white blood cells, either in type-B or type-T lymphocytes. The disease is responsible for about 3% of all cancer worldwide.
The scientists also confirmed a previous discovery, that people who used black hair dye manufactured before 1980 are at particular risk.
We know, says hematologist Prof. Ora Paltiel of Hebrew University-Hadassah, that B Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma has both genetic and environmental components. We just don’t know what they are.
The unique opportunity afforded by this study is that Israelis and Palestinians have very close genetic backgrounds – the closest genetic cousins to Jews are Palestinians and Italians, of all people. But Israelis and Palestinians live in very different environments. It creates an opportunity to focus more sharply on environmental risk factors, Paltiel explains to Haaretz.