What are the risk factors for myeloma?


A risk factor is any factor that is associated with increasing someone’s chances of developing a certain condition, such as cancer. Some risk factors are modifiable, such as lifestyle or environmental risk factors. Others cannot be modified, such as inherited factors or whether someone in the family has had cancer. 

Having one or more risk factors does not mean a person will develop cancer. Many people have at least one risk factor but will never develop cancer, while others with cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease. 

Myeloma risk factors[4][5]

Although the causes of myeloma are not fully understood, there are a number of factors associated with the risk of developing the disease. These include: 

  • exposure to high-dose radiation, certain chemicals (for example, dioxins) and viruses (such as HIV)  
  • increasing age – myeloma is most often found in people aged over 60 years old 
  • being overweight or obese 
  • having other plasma cell diseases, such as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or solitary plasmacytoma 
  • gender – myeloma is a little more common in men than in women 
  • a family history of multiple myeloma  

If you have any of these risk factors or are concerned about your risk for myeloma, please see your doctor.