A study of 2,480 AIDS patients has found that they have 2.4 times the risk of contracting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) if they carry a certain polymorphism. Charles S. Rabkin, HIV-cancer coordinator at the National Cancer Institute, presented this preliminary finding at last month's meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in New Orleans. The polymorphism, a cytosine-for-guanine substitution in the interleukin-6 gene's promoter region, results in decreased plasma levels of IL-6. Rabkin initially predicted that lower levels would reduce NHL risk because IL-6 stimulates B cells and thus might promote the development of lymphoma. To account for his contrary finding, he speculates that inadequate IL-6 might result in poorer control of HIV infection, which, in turn, leads to more insults to lymphocytes and finally to NHL. In the study, 60 percent of Caucasians had at least one copy of the polymorphism (the difference in NHL risk between homozygotes...
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