BACKGROUND: Case-control studies suggested a moderate, but consistent, association of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with lymphoid tissue malignancies, especially non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). More limited data suggested that hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection might also be associated with NHL. However, prospective studies on the topic are few. METHODS: A nested case-control study was conducted in eight countries participating in the EPIC prospective study. Seven hundred thirty-nine incident cases of NHL, 238 multiple myeloma (MM), and 46 Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) were matched with 2,028 controls. Seropositivity to anti-HCV, anti-HBc, and HBsAg was evaluated and conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) for NHL, MM, or HL, and their combination. RESULTS: Anti-HCV seropositivity among controls in different countries ranged from 0% to 5.3%; HBsAg from 0% to 2.7%; and anti-HBc from 1.9% to 45.9%. Similar nonsignificant associations were found with seropositivity to HBsAg for NHL (OR = 1.78; 95% CI: 0.78-4.04), MM (OR = 4.00; 95% CI: 1.00-16.0), and HL (OR = 2.00; 95% CI: 0.13-32.0). The association between HBsAg and the combination of NHL, MM, and HL (OR = 2.21; 95% CI: 1.12-4.33) was similar for cancer diagnosed less than 3 and 3 or more years after blood collection. No significant association was found between anti-HCV and NHL, MM, or HL risk, but the corresponding CIs were very broad. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic HBV infection may increase the risk of lymphoid malignancies among healthy European volunteers. IMPACT: Treatment directed at control of HBV infection should be evaluated in HBsAg-seropositive patients with lymphoid tissue malignancies.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev

Publication Date





208 - 214


Case-Control Studies, Europe, Female, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Humans, Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin, Male, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors