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tedibear's avatar

Could my mom's Hodgkin's Disease have been caused by steroid use?

Asked by tedibear (17971points) December 19th, 2010

I have a cousin who is the epitome of “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” so I take things she says with skepticism. She believes/thinks that Hodgkin’s is primarily a male disease. My mom took Prednisone (a corticosteroid) at one point for her arthritis. My cousin has concluded that this steroid use is what made the disease “come out” because women typically don’t get Hodgkin’s.

Fellow Jellies, my knowledge of physiology and disease is very small. Is there any truth to what she said? If you don’t know, do you know of some resources that might help me to find out?

I ask this out of curiosity. My mom has been gone for several years and I’ve always wondered if my cousin’s belief had any validity.

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7 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Please read up on your mother’s condition at the Mayo Clinic site.

Among other things, it says “Males are slightly more likely to develop Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” SLIGHTLY. That means that women can and do get the disease.

Also, look at the causes. Nothing about steroid use.

Your cousin’s belief is wrong and based on ignorance. You can read up on the disease and tell your cousin that she is wrong. Suggest she read up on the disease.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Prednisolone can weaken the immune system and having a weakened immune system can increase your risk of developing Hodgkins disease. However, the cause of Hodgkins disease is poorly understood so there is no way to link the two events. A quick literature review on pubmed sugests there is no well established link between steroid use and developing lymphoma. Being male increases your risk of developing it but being female doesn’t stop you from getting it.

To be honest it sounds like your cousin is just saying it to be hurtful. I would ignore.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Some people believe that everything has an understandable cause and need an explanation to affix blame somewhere.

According to this article, while it’s not known specifically what causes Hodgkin’s, among the causes are Epstein-Barr virus and genetic predisposition. Perhaps your cousin has a need to manage her own fear of developing Hodgkin’s by “blaming” it on the prednisone.

JLeslie's avatar

I tend to be one of those people who believes everything does have a cause, but medical science has not figured it all out yet. I don’t think there is always one single cause though for disease, I think many factors play in, and blame does not do any good, but undertsanding can help. Maybe the prednisone brought it on earlier than it might have happened, or was the tipping point, of all of the other things happening that were contributing to her getting Hodgkins. I actually have no knowledge of the two being related, except that as mentioned above steroids inhibit our immune systems, our bodies natural ability to fight foreign invaders and disease. Steroids are to be avoided, except when necessary.

My father got a DVT following steroid use, and his doctor who prescribed it told him its a coinsidence. My mom looked it up, and steroid use has been implicated in blood clots, and the doctor he went to for the treatment said it is likely it was the steroids. My father needed bipass at the age of 46 and had to have one of his carotid arteries closed off in his early 60’s. He is a high risk patient for blood clots and heart disease, and more care should have been taken in what was prescribed. I see this all the time doctors don’t think anything will go wrong, and don’t know enough about how drugs are more likely in some patients to cause trouble. Prescribing steroids for your mom, probably does not fall into this category, she may have had no indications she was more likely to have problems taking prednisone, and she probably wanted the medication, she wanted to feel better. Even if there evidence that steroids can lead to Hodgkins (which I don’t think there is) she might have opted to take the medicine anyway. There are studies showing hormone replacement causes more breast cancer, but women take it every day, and viagra heart attack, but men take it all of the time, and Tylenol acute liver failure, etc. But, this is a time where you can really think about how every drug has a side effect.

tedibear's avatar

Thanks all. I’ve always thought she was winging it on this one, but thought some of you may know – or know of resources.

JLeslie's avatar

This you might find very interesting. I guess there were theories out there that there is increased risk of non-hodgkins lymphoma with steroid use out there, but this study says there is no increased risk. I know your mom has hodgkins, but this might answer where your cousin might be getting some of his ideas, much like mercury in vaccine and autism, and power lines causing cancer. I am not saying what I believe about those things, just that there are theories out there that possibly still are unproven, or considered proven, but still not accepted by many.

I also read that steroids are used to treat Hodgkins. So, that was a little curious if there is fear it might cause it.

tedibear's avatar

Oh, I forgot to mention that my mom has been gone for 16 years. The subject came up in a conversation with my middle sister. This really is more out of curiosity than anything. It just seemed so unlikely to me.

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