Hodgkin's disease (HD) risk in young adults has been associated with higher childhood social class. Although recent decades have witnessed increases in both young-adult HD incidence rates and the socioeconomic affluence reported to influence risk, social class risk factors have not been reexamined. For 204 cases and 254 controls aged 19-44 years from a population-based case-control study of HD diagnosed in 1988-94 in San Francisco area females, we evaluated social class predictors of HD overall and for subgroups defined by age and by ethnicity. HD was associated weakly with a few childhood social class markers but more strongly with combinations of these variables. Risk was higher for women with family-owned than rented childhood homes; for US-born women with single vs. shared bedrooms at age 11; and for women with 2+ births who were from smaller than larger childhood households. These patterns differed by age, with risk appearing to increase over the young-adult years for some factors and to decrease for others. In whites, risk was additionally associated with having a single childhood bedroom in larger households, and with tall adult height in women from smaller childhood households. In nonwhites, risk was higher for single bedrooms at age 11 in smaller childhood households, taller height and higher maternal education. Most study findings support the hypothesis that HD development in young adults follows protection from early exposure to other children. Variation in risk by age suggests differing etiologies across young adulthood, or the importance of birth cohort-appropriate social-class measures. Negative findings for previously reported risk factors may reflect their insufficient heterogeneity of exposure or their failure to measure cohort-relevant exposures in this population.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.