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Health Information Center

Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma

  • Michael Jubinville, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma

A risk factor is something that raises your chances of getting a health problem. You can have multiple myeloma (MM) with or without those listed below. The more you have, the greater your chances of getting it. Ask your doctor what you can to do lower your risk.

MM is most common in people aged 65 years and older. It is rare in people under 40 years old. It also tends to run in families. But, you can still have the disease without a family history.

The risk for getting MM is also higher for people who:

  • Work with harmful chemicals—Mainly with jobs in petroleum or farming.
  • Are Black—Rates of MM are about 2 times higher in Black people than in White people.
  • Have certain health conditions such as:
    • Prior MM
    • Monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS)—Too many abnormal proteins are made by plasma cells in the bone marrow.
    • Obesity—Being overweight is linked to a higher risk of MGUS. Risk is compounded as weight increases.
    • Amyloidosis—Abnormal proteins build up in the body's organs. This keeps them from working as they should. Amyloidosis is not common, but it is linked to MM.
  • Are exposed to radiation—from a nuclear bomb fallout or x-rays—not common


  • General information about plasma cell neoplasms. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloma/patient/myeloma-treatment-pdq#_1.
  • Multiple myeloma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116888/Multiple-myeloma.
  • Multiple myeloma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/plasma-cell-disorders/multiple-myeloma.
  • Myeloma. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: https://www.lls.org/disease-information/myeloma.
  • Risk factors for multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.