People who are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) are six times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) than people who are not infected with the virus, according to a Canadian study.

Researchers examined the HCV status of 550 people who had NHL and 205 healthy control subjects. "People who have been exposed to the virus comprise a high-risk group for developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma," says John Spinelli, a cancer researcher at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver.

Previous studies in Canada and the United States did not find an association between HCV and NHL.

Approximately 3.8 million people in the United States are infected with HCV ln 2003, approximately 23,000 Americans died from the virus. While blood transfusion used to be the most common way people became infected, it is most often transmitted now among drug users who share needles.

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