Risk Factors

There are no known causes of myeloma. Some research has shown there is some association with people who are exposed to chemicals and radiation are at higher risk. Those with occupations in the agriculture industry, with petroleum, and cosmetologists seem to be at higher risk. Pesticides, herbicides may be involved. A decline in the immune system is also associated with the disease.   However, none of these associations is strong, and in most cases, multiple myeloma develops in individuals who have no known risk factors. Genetic factors may also be involved in the development of multiple myeloma.

Risk factors for myeloma include:

  • Being over age 65
  • Being male
  • Being African-American
  • Having a family member affected by multiple myeloma

A significant number of people with certain conditions will develop multiple myeloma. These conditions are:

  • Monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance (MGUS)
  • Solitary plasmacytoma

The most significant risk factor for multiple myeloma is age, as 96% of cases are diagnosed in people older than 45 years, and more than 63% are diagnosed in people older than 65 years. Thus, it is thought that susceptibility to myeloma may increase with the aging process. Researchers across the world are participating and sharing research results in myeloma. The youngest person diagnosed is a 9-year old child in South America. We know of a few people who were diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.  he statistics matter little when you have a personal diagnosis of MM.