Woodworking and Lymphoma?

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Forum topic by NoMoreWoodWorking posted 09-05-2013 08:35 AM 2382 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1750 days

09-05-2013 08:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lymphoma cancer dangers dust

LJ brothers and sisters, this is a sad post. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a couple of months ago. If anyone knows about Hodgkin’s or cancer in general you know finding out what you have is a long and scary process… then the treatments are a nightmare on their own. I’m definitely not complaining though. It could be a lot worse, and I am grateful for any more time I get to spend with my family. However, with anything like this it’s great to have a hobby you are passionate about to try and keep from thinking about survival statistics and such stuff. As you can probably guess, for me this means woodworking. Woodworking has been both a physical and emotional therapy for me since I was old enough to hold a hammer. However I was told by my doctors to stop woodworking ASAP. They explained to me that wood dust could complicate the side effects of the treatments, but even more shocking was the fact that wood dust was a possible factor in getting the disease. I’m writing this post to ask the LJ community if anyone has heard of this before? Is there data on this? I can find some references to through or nasal cancers but nothing on lymphoma. The fight to stay alive is tough enough… but knowing that when I win the fight I won’t be able to do what I are most passionate about is just kicking a man while he’s down. Any information is much appreciated.

13 replies so far

View Sanding2day's profile


1013 posts in 1872 days

#1 posted 09-05-2013 02:23 PM

Sorry to read of this NMWW… I am not a trained doctor by any stretch of the imagination but have heard of that formaldehyde or other irritants within some woods/dust is an irritant to be avoided. Certainly wish you all the best in fighting the good fight. Perhaps some modified work practices could get you back into the shop. i.e. filtration systems, industrial mask, or as an extreme purchase precut blanks and take up relief carving/hand tool non dust producing woodwork so you can change your name… Thanks for sharing and again all the best to you and yours…

-- Dan

View Loco's profile


210 posts in 1774 days

#2 posted 09-05-2013 02:52 PM

Buy the worlds baddest fan to blow the dust out the door and getcha ona these.

You can whip it. Concentrate HARD on diet and mega supplements and do NOT quit being active.

Spend some time here.

-- What day is it ? No matter. Ummmm What month is it ? No moron. I paid for a 2 x 6. That means Two inches by six inches. I want the rest of my wood.

View BJODay's profile


526 posts in 1968 days

#3 posted 09-06-2013 02:45 AM

Sorry to hear about your illness. I would wear a mask and keep doing what I love to do. Sanding2day’s suggestion about steering into another area of woodworking is also a great option.

Good luck and I wish you well in your RX.


View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2939 days

#4 posted 09-06-2013 03:08 AM

Geez, you have my attention on this for sure! I had an armpit lymph node blow up on me last Fall (first time ever) and the VA had to run all kinds of blood and urine tests (possible AO exposure in the Navy) while finding nothing out. Then in December I underwent surgery to remove the node (actually took about 5 of them in the immediate area). I was lucky and the biopsied nodes were negative. I feel your pain, and am constantly wondering about a ‘next time’.

“Nuff about me… I have not heard anything about inhaling WW dust and lymphoma, but will be very interested in anything that is informative on the subject.

Hang in there Dan and keep us posted.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2462 days

#5 posted 09-06-2013 04:24 AM

As a 40+ year survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma I’ve never heard of wood dust being a possible cause. I still have annual check-ups and none of my doctors have ever said anything about my wood working and I’ve been doing it for over 30 years now. I could see it aggravating the side effects of the treatment though. On the plus side HL is a very beatable cancer, so you have that in your favor. Hope all goes well! Keep the faith!

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View KPat's profile


1 post in 1749 days

#6 posted 09-06-2013 04:36 AM

Google “EMF Lymphoma”. EMF stands for Electro-Magnetic Field The theory is … if the motor in the power tool is powerful enough to push the cutter thu wood, then exposure (a function of duration and proximity) to that field could disrupt a cell on the molecular level. It’s a magnetic field that keeps the electrons in the cells atoms in their orbit. It is made worse by the fact that that alternating current (at 60 cycle) works like an agitator.

View mbs's profile


1656 posts in 2965 days

#7 posted 09-06-2013 04:42 AM

I’m sorry you’re going through this. Ive learned through the years that while Dr’s ’ are smart people they don’t know everything about causes of cancer. And never say “never”. I believe you will beat the cancer and still do something you’re passionate about. Keep in touch.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2996 days

#8 posted 09-06-2013 04:53 AM

While I don’t have it, I know a couple of people who do.
One is a jeweler and the other owns a BBQ restaurant.
Neither had any connection to wood working.

My wife has Lupus, which is not Lymphoma, but it is a malfunctioning immune system.
Based on her experience and the experience of the people I know who do have lymphoma, I can see where the dust and fumes from finishes might be a problem, but with proper precautions I would think you could still wood work. I would ask my doctor what precautions would make it possible to continue. Air filters, dust collectors, mask, have someone else do the sanding and finishing? Switch to hand tools?

View REO's profile


928 posts in 2099 days

#9 posted 09-06-2013 05:20 AM

NMWW One if the suspected causes for Hairy cell leukemia is exposure to wood dust. I went through Chemo for that two years ago. At this point I am clear of any lingering indicators for recurrence. I am certainly not a definitive case. Although I have been in he sawdust since I was able to walk I have also been exposed to other things that are suspected to cause this form of cancer. Petroleum distillates through the skin or aspirated. Polyurethane and polyester resin, epoxies etc. I presently am an industrial mechanic at a shingle manufacturing plant so I still have the exposure as part of my job to petroleum products and distillates. I also continue to do woodwork. At this point the early detection radar is up and running and just as you do I get regular screening. If exposure has already flipped the switch for the disease from my understanding there is no turning it off. I have been told that regardless of a change in atmosphere I can still look at reoccurrence from time to time for the rest of my life, but that because of early detection it will be completely treatable. I am glad that you too have a positive out come to your treatment. I would ask your doctor about weather at this point it would make a difference. My doctor said no.

View BorkBob's profile


127 posts in 2717 days

#10 posted 09-07-2013 02:00 AM

NMWW….I think you just did one of the important things to fight this disease. You admitted you have it. That lets all of us know to think positvie thoughts and/or pray for your recovery. I worked in medicine for 20+ yrs. (PA) and heard all kinds of doctors say all kinds of things. I think with adequate precautions against dust and chemicals, woodworking would do you more good than harm. It sure helps me feel at peace most of the time.

Mike…you know the VA follows the Navy way of doing anything: see one, do one, teach one. I don’t know what the other two were doing…probably goofing off. I was a Navy corpsman with the Marines in Nam and I drank water out of bomb craters in defoliated areas of northern I Corps. I might glow at night but I quit worrying about the adverse health issues related to agent orange.

-- Please Pray for Our Troops / Semper Fi / Bob Ross /

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 2262 days

#11 posted 09-08-2013 01:23 AM

I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve never heard of a wood-dust/lymphoma corralation before either, but if you are really worried about it, you might consider something like a full-face dust mask, or even fancier, a full-head respirator. I wear one of those masks with the replaceable cartridges when I’m doing something that generates a large amount of dust (using the TS, mostly); not so much because of cancer, but because my sinuses can’t take it. Good luck on your recovery!

View john111's profile


70 posts in 2010 days

#12 posted 09-08-2013 02:19 AM

Good luck NMWW! I have one of those full face masks. It was given to me on some job i was doing. It is really very comfortable and you don’t need to wear safety glasses with them! Check them out! They also have some that have a fresh air ventilated system to them. I’m sure it’s expensive but I would think worth it. Good luck buddy!!!!!!!

-- john111

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2097 days

#13 posted 09-08-2013 03:53 AM

Good luck… I am younger (I think) than most I follow on this site. I was warned about this early in my pursuit of woodworking as a career. I know this is not directly sympathetic to your situation, but I think it is important to this thread. My opinion is also what I was taught and have learned, and NOT a quote of scientific fact. First.. plants are remarkable chemical factories… and most are toxic and even poisonous to those who are trying to eat, kill, or use them for other than what they want to do. I was told many times that the “Idea” that you are working with a “natural” material is NO measure of safety.. Growing up, and taught in NM the first example was always nightshade, then mesquite, and others that are toxic by nature. Then there is another thing to consider… Trees are a top “predator” like large fish… not in exactly the same way, but environmental toxins are magnified in lumber unlike other plants. Being taught in NM you had to be conscious of the radioactive levels of old and even second and third growth timber that you might have been locally sourced?!? Any LJ’s in Nevada, Idaho, and Utah can relate. Then there is just the factor of allergies, and of exposure allergies. NMWW I diffidently appreciate the reminder. It has been said on this site before.. Protect your extremities.. Protect your eyes.. but don’t forget to protect your lungs. If Only I had remembered to protect my ears.. I can’t hear that good now but I do know that in the pursuit of this craft.. I have put myself at a number of risks… And I am ok with that … Of course there is this caveat.. for me this is my profession... I gave up my motorcycle ”hobby” (I have been riding since I was 7) when my first daughter was born. If I was faced with wood working as a hobby over family the same way.. I would probably give it up.

-- Who is John Galt?

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