Microsoft Co-Founder Dies From Lymphoma. Let’s Find Out How We Can Be Proactive5 years ago | Cancer
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
On October 15th, 2018, Microsoft co-founder, technologist, philanthropist, billionaire (which he became at 37-years-old) Paul Allen lost his battle to cancer at the age of 65. The type of cancer Allen fought was lymphoma - not really a cancer you hear about as often as other cancers like lung or breast.
But we need to have a conversation about lymphoma. This complicated cancer reportedly has a five-year survival rate (the length of time a person will usually live after the diagnosis).
So What is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system.
“The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body,” according to one source.
In other words, the lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system.
So lymphomas are cancers that start in the white blood cells (called lymphocytes), and there are two main kinds of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).
“They behave, spread, and respond to treatment differently, so it's important for you to know which one you have,” according to the American Cancer Society.
According to a statement from his family, Allen died due to complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But in 1982, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma which he beat nearly eight months after his diagnosis. So it is possible to have both of these cancers simultaneously or battle one after the other.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Hodgkin’s lymphoma spreads in an orderly manner from one group of lymph nodes to another, and non-Hodgkin’s spreads through the lymphatic system in a non-orderly manner.
“Non-Hodgkin lymphoma becomes more common as people get older. Unlike most cancers, rates of Hodgkin lymphoma are highest among teens and young adults (ages 15 to 39 years) and again among older adults (ages 75 years or older). White people are more likely than black people to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and men are more likely than women to develop lymphoma.”
To read more about specific differences between the two and the history of these diseases, read here. Both types of cancer have similar symptoms, including swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, fatigue and weight loss.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is reportedly one of the most common cancers in the United States, accounting for about 4% of all cancers. The average American’s risk of developing NHL during one’s lifetime is about 1 in 47.
NHL can develop in many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, thymus and digestive tract, reports the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
What Are the Causes of Lymphoma?
As with most cancers, there is no definitive cause.
However, “[t]he main risk factors for lymphoma are problems with your immune system. This is unlike many other forms of cancer, where lifestyle factors often play a larger role in their development,” according to one source.
Research has shown that people who are infected with HIV have a higher risk of developing lymphoma. This would make sense considering that people with HIV have a very compromised immune system. This disease is not inherited, but having a family history of it may also be a risk factor.
How Can We Be Proactive?
As with all cancers, when it comes to being proactive about preventing the development of lymphoma, maintaining a healthy diet is helpful. This means eating a diet rich in plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
These healthy foods are nutrient-dense, full of vitamins and minerals, which if you consume an adequate intake of, may help protect you from a myriad of diseases, including lymphoma and other cancers.
For example, the mineral selenium may be protective against cancer, and having a deficiency in this important mineral is a risk factor for several types of cancer. And since lymphoma attacks the immune system, you want to make sure your immune system is in top shape by giving your white blood cells the nutrients they need to fight off disease.
One study conducted by Australian researchers found evidence that the fatty acids in fish may provide protective benefits against lymphoma. Interestingly, they found the protective effect of fish to be much stronger in men than women.
Other ways you can help prevent lymphoma include just living an overall healthy lifestyle. This means no smoking, consuming alcohol in moderation and maintaining a healthy weight (obesity also increases risk of developing lymphoma).
Finally, the pH Labs team highly recommends getting routine nutrient tests. Doing this will let you know if you have too little or too much of a specific nutrient including, vitamins or minerals. You always want to avoid nutrient imbalances to feel your healthiest and further decrease your odds of getting sick. If you discover you are not nutritionally balanced, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on possibly changing your diet. He or she may also recommend taking quality supplements.
Read more about critical nutrients and cancer prevention in Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.