Doctors do not know what causes myeloma. But certain things called risk factors can increase the chance of developing myeloma.

What are risk factors?

There are certain things that can increase the chance of developing myeloma. These are called risk factors. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get cancer. And not having risk factors does not mean you will not develop it.

MGUS

Research shows that almost everyone with myeloma has had a condition called MGUS first. But not everyone who has MGUS goes on to develop myeloma.

Age

Myeloma is more common in older people over 65. It is rare in people under 40.

Ethnicity

Myeloma is more than twice as common in black people than in white people.

Gender

Myeloma is more common in men than in women.

Family history

People who have a close family member (such as a parent, brother or sister) with myeloma have a slightly increased risk of developing it.

A weakened immune system

A weak immune system increases the risk of developing myeloma. Some conditions, such as HIV, reduce immunity. People taking medicines to weaken (suppress) their immune system after an organ transplant are also at a higher risk.

Autoimmune disease

Autoimmune diseases cause the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells in the body. These autoimmune disorders slightly increase the risk of myeloma:

  • Pernicious anaemia
  • Haemolytic anaemia
  • Lupus.

 

Being overweight

Being overweight may increase the risk of developing myeloma. Keeping to a healthy body weight may reduce the risk of myeloma and other cancers.

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