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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



Twenty-nine thousand EU citizens die from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) every year. The incidence of NHL is increasing worldwide at an average annual rate of between 4% and 5% with no evidence of stopping. More than 280 000 new cases are recorded annually across the globe; 59 000 of which represent citizens from EU countries. Studies in the past have produced hypotheses about the causes of the disease, such as the role of environmental factors, but the results have been inconsistent.

The strength of the ambitious EUROLYMPH project lies in the largescale data supplied by research centres from around the world. Recent information gathered on over 7 000 NHL cases will form the basis of a comprehensive investigation. EUROLYMPH is expected to produce results that will not only contribute greatly to understanding the causes of NHL, but also to developing preventative measures.

The rise in incidence of NHL appears to be consistent across countries, sexes and ethnic groups. The risk factors that have been suggested include family history, nutritional factors (such as food contamination), immunodeficiency, infection with Epstein-Barr and other viruses, as well as exposure to UV radiation, pesticides, solvents and hair dyes. The occupation most associated with an elevated risk for NHL is farming and agricultural work. Those occupations exposed to elements such as solvents (for example, drycleaners and laundry workers) are also associated with a higher risk.


According to the EUROLYMPH consortium, the key to overcoming the problems encountered by previous studies lies in testing the relevant exposure on large-scale cases as well as controls, and addressing the risk of specific NHL subtypes. As such, the EUROLYMPH consortium investigates both environmental and nutritional factors by analysing two recent NHL studies of 2 400 cases, and a comparable control group conducted in eight European countries.

Additional studies from Europe, North America and Australia (from the InterLymph initiative) are integrated into the research, bringing the total to 7 500 cases to be analysed. The pooling together of this considerable data provides the statistical power to study rare risk factors, as well as consistency in comparing populations and disease subgroups within NHL. EUROLYMPH represents the largest NHL initiative of its kind ever to be implemented.


The project aims to produce results on risk of NHL from exposure to various categories of pesticides and solvents, organic dusts and ultraviolet radiation, as well as contact with animals and animal-related products. These studies also take into account the interplay of these factors on genetic susceptibility. Further studies include analysing the effect of duration of the exposure, the level of exposure and when the exposure occurred in the course of the case study's life. The data is classified by gender, geographic region and major NHL type.

The project represents the establishment of the network of NHL studies, creating a stronger leadership role for European scientists in this area. More importantly, however, the identification of environmental and nutritional risk factors through the EUROLYMPH project can contribute to the prevention of NHL.

List of Partners

  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (France)
  • Catalan Institute of Oncology (Spain)
  • German Cancer Research Centre (Germany)
  • University of Cagliari (Italy)
  • University of York (UK)
Full title:
Collaborative European action into environmental, nutritional and genetic factors in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Contract n:
Project co-ordinator:
Paolo Boffetta,
International Agency for Research on Cancer
EC Scientific Officer:
Tomasz Calikowski,
EU contribution:
€ 420,000
Specific Support Action

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top