6 Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma Risk Factors

Multiple mylenoma is a rare type of cancer, with roughly 20,000 known cases, but it is proliferating among people with distinct physical characteristics. It is essentially a hemotologic disease, linked to irregular groupings of plasma cells inside bone marrow. Although the origins of this predominantly western condition still eludes researchers, a handful of symptoms have been found to increase an individual’s risk of developing the disease.

6 Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma


Not only have studies shown that older people (those upwards of 70 years) are more vulnerable to MM, but the number of cases is increasing. Research also shows elderly patients are more difficult to treat than younger ones (those closer to 40), and the fatalities tend to increase with age. This is due, in part, to the host of unrelated illnesses that generally strike people as they progress toward the 80-year mark.


Although many people are still unaware of multiple myeloma and its impact on minorities, it is one of the most prevalent blood-relate diseases among African Americans. Not only that, but Blacks who are nearing 70 years of age are more likely to die from the disease than Caucasians around the same age. In fact, over the years, Whites have seen an increase in positive response to treatment while results among Blacks have remained virtually unchanged.


During a study conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research, scientists discovered that a greater number of women than males suffering from multiple myeloma had developed lesions. The reason for this distinction is to believed to be genetically derived. Men typically have hyperdiploidy (higher chromosome count) whereas women are more likely to possess immunoglobulin (natural antibodies produced by plasma cells). These factors are used primarily for classification purposes, since their relation to multiple myeloma are, for the most part, ambiguous.


Occupational relations to MM tend to impact males more than women, but the reason for this is largely credited to the types of work environments that are conducive to the disease. Research conducted by Sweden’s Organization for Working Environment, Occupational Safety and Health showed that workers exposed to diesel exhaust were found to be slightly more susceptible to this particular type of cancer than those who weren’t. Researchers are also targeting nuclear facilities, which are known for their considerable amounts of radiation, as they strive to understand the causes of multiple myeloma.


Based on information gathered by Harvard researchers, people who are obese (those with a body-mass index of 30 or more) are at a greater risk of developing multiple myeloma than those with a BMI of 18.5 to 29. According to the same studies, weight and its relation to MM seems to have a greater impact on men than women who share similar BMI rankings. One clue regarding the close relationship between physical weight and MM may be found in interleukin-6, which is present in fat tissue and rampant in people who are obese. Scientists are looking at other factors associated with obesity in order to identify a more definitive cause.

Family History

People with at least one immediate family member suffering from MM are 2 or 3 times more likely to develop the disease themselves. Studies surrounding its connection to heredity has led researchers to consider a number of genetic factors, including loci (placement of genes along chromosomes). This connection was discovered during the early 1920s, when doctors uncovered several MM patients that followed one or more case within the same bloodline. Over the years, similar cases have been discovered and experts are finding that genetic premise may be more complex than they had previously anticipated.