The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system and includes white blood cells called lymphocytes. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is a type of cancer which can occur when these white blood cells become cancerous. In this article the causes and risk factors of NHL will be discussed, as well as how Chinese Medicine can help.
Where Does Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Start?
Cancers which begin in the lymph tissue are called lymphomas. The lymphatic system is made up of various types of lymph tissue, and helps the body to fight disease and infections, as well as keeping the fluids in the body moving. This lymphatic system is spread throughout the body and includes lymph tissue in the form of lymph nodes, thymus, spleen, tonsils and adenoids, parts of the digestive tract and bone marrow. Not all lymphomas are non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, and there are also many different types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, depending on how the affected white blood cells look under a microscope.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Causes:
While researchers have found out a lot about how NHL occurs, they still aren’t sure exactly why the disease occurs. However, NHL has been linked to multiple risk factors which increase your likelihood of developing the disease.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has been linked to changes in the DNA. These changes occur in the chromosomes and involve either mutations, translocations or deletions of the genetic code. As a result, the body sometimes begins to make abnormal lymphocytes, which can then multiply and cause cancerous growths.
DNA changes may occur due to genetic mutations inherited from your parents, or may be acquired throughout your life. Acquired DNA changes are sometimes caused by exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, radiation, or infections, or may appear to occur for no reason. However, acquired gene changes become more common with age.
Risk Factors for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma:
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma risk factors which are not under our control include age (people over 60 years old are more likely to develop NHL), family history (having a close family member who has NHL), and gender (men are more likely than women to develop NHL).
The risk factors for NHL which we can control include weight (being overweight or obese may increase the likelihood of developing NHL), having breast implants (lymph nodes near the breasts may become cancerous), and exposure to chemicals such as toxic weed and insect killers. Exposure to radiation may also increase the risk of NHL.
Because the lymphatic system is part of the immune system, any conditions or infections which weaken or cause chronic stimulation of the immune system may also be risk factors for NHL. Examples of such conditions include autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease, and infections like hepatitis C and helicobacter pylori. The Epstein-Barr virus is an infection which may promote the transformation of healthy white blood cells into cancerous ones.
How Can Chinese Medicine Help?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is an effective treatment for many diseases, including cancers like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In Chinese Medicine the human body is seen as a whole, where all the systems and organs are connected to each other and the whole body. Because all the organs are interrelated, when one organ becomes weak or out of balance, this can affect other organs. When your organs cannot function properly you may develop disease.
To treat diseases like NHL, Chinese Medicine practitioners aim to find the root cause of the illness. From there, they can use acupuncture and herbal medicine to boost the affected organ so that it can regain its natural functioning. When all the organs function properly, healing can occur.
To help prevent diseases like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Chinese Medicine practitioners can use techniques like acupuncture to energise and nourish the body’s systems, including the lymphatic system. This can help keep the body healthy and strong. If you already have cancer such as NHL, Chinese Medicine can help through treatments to reduce pain, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Chinese Medicine may also be used to treat side effects (for example nausea) from other cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
Overall, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer which begins in the white blood cells of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system. While the exact cause of NHL is yet to be discovered, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Chinese Medicine may be used to treat cancers like NHL, through acupuncture and other techniques, and can also help treat the side effects from other cancer treatments.
For more information about how Chinese Medicine can help treat lymphatic cancers like NHL, see our website at https://balancetcm.co.nz/category/lymphatic-cancer-lymphoma/.
See our website at https://balancetcm.co.nz/cancer-clinic/ for more information about cancer and Chinese Medicine.
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Centre of Balance: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine (n.d.). Archive for category: Lymphatic Cancer (Lymphoma). https://balancetcm.co.nz/category/lymphatic-cancer-lymphoma/
Centre of Balance: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine (n.d.). Cancer Clinic. https://balancetcm.co.nz/cancer-clinic/
Normandin, B., Boskey, E., & Tabackman, L. (2021, November 22). Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/non-hodgkins-lymphoma