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Multiple Myeloma Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention

Our doctors deliver personal, customized care to patients with multiple myeloma. With many unanswered questions about this disease, it’s important to have a strong relationship with your care team. At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, you’ll have access to some of the most advanced treatments available from a team of experts who will be with you every step of the way.

What Causes Multiple Myeloma?

While scientists don’t know exactly what causes multiple myeloma, there is exciting new research looking for an answer. 

Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma

Currently, there are few avoidable risk factors related to multiple myeloma. However, there are some elements that might make you more likely to develop this disease.

  • Age: The risk of developing multiple myeloma increases with age. Most people are diagnosed after age 65
  • Gender: More men than women develop multiple myeloma
  • Race: African Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to develop multiple myeloma
  • Obesity: Obesity or being overweight has been shown to increase a person’s risk for multiple myeloma
  • Radiation: If you’ve had radiation therapy or other exposure, you may be at higher risk for multiple myeloma
  • Chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene, a known carcinogen in gasoline, has also been found to increase myeloma risk
  • Other plasma cell diseases: You may be at higher risk for multiple myeloma if you’ve had a precancerous condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or a single tumor of plasma cells (solitary plasmacytoma)
  • Genetics: Multiple myeloma seems to run in some families. If your sibling or parent has multiple myeloma, you are more likely to get it too. However, most patients have no relatives with the disease. New research is starting to look more closely at genes related to multiple myeloma

How to Prevent Multiple Myeloma

With few cases linked to risk factors, there’s currently nothing that you can do to prevent multiple myeloma.

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