South Asian ethnicity and material deprivation increase the risk of Epstein-Barr virus infection in childhood Hodgkin's disease

KJ Flavell, JP Biddulph, Judith Powell, SE Parkes, D Redfern, Michael Weinreb, P Nelson, Jillian Mann, Lawrence Young, Paul Murray

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39 Citations (Scopus)


In order to further define the factors associated with the observed variations in the Epstein-Barr virus-positive rate in childhood Hodgkin's disease, we have studied the effect of material deprivation (measured by the Townsend score) and ethnic origin on the frequency of Epstein-Barr virus-positivity in 55 cases of childhood Hodgkin's disease, diagnosed between 1981 and 1999, from a multi-ethnic region of the United Kingdom. Epstein-Barr virus status was determined by immunohistochemistry for the Epstein-Barr virus-encoded latent membrane protein-1. 62% of cases were Epstein-Barr virus-positive. Ethnic group was the strongest predictor of Epstein-Barr virus-positivity, with South Asians having a more than 20-fold risk of being Epstein-Barr virus-positive compared with non-South Asians. An increased risk was still present after adjusting for deprivation. Townsend scores were significantly higher (indicating more deprivation) in the Epstein-Barr virus-positive group, particularly in males. The relative risk of Epstein-Barr virus-positivity showed a gradient with increasing Townsend score; the risk being 7-times higher in the most deprived quartile compared with the least deprived group. Although the association between Townsend score and Epstein-Barr virus-positivity was reduced after adjusting for ethnic group, the risk of Epstein-Barr virus-positivity was still 3-times higher in the most deprived compared with the least deprived quartile. In addition, cases having 2 or more siblings were 5-times as likely to be Epstein-Barr virus-positive as those from smaller families. These results provide the first evidence of a strong association between Epstein-Barr virus-positive Hodgkin's disease and South Asian children from the United Kingdom. In addition, deprivation may increase the likelihood of Epstein-Barr virus-positive disease independently of ethnicity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-356
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Early online date3 Aug 2001
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2001


  • material deprivation
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • childhood
  • ethnicity


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