Cancer Home > Multiple Myeloma Causes

At this time, the causes of multiple myeloma are still unknown. However, researchers have identified certain risk factors for multiple myeloma. While these risk factors do not cause the disease, they do increase the chances of developing it. Risk factors for multiple myeloma include being African American, having a personal history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), and growing older (risk increases with age).

What Causes Multiple Myeloma?

No one knows the exact multiple myeloma causes. Doctors can seldom explain why one person will get multiple myeloma and another person will not. However, it is clear that this disease is not contagious -- no one can "catch" multiple myeloma from another person. Multiple myeloma research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop the disease. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chances of developing a disease. While risk factors are not technically causes of the disease, they may act together to increase the multiple myeloma risk.
 

Know the Risk Factors

Specific risk factors for this disease include:
 
  • Growing older (most people with the disease are diagnosed after age 65)
  • Being African American
  • Having a personal history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).
 
Age
Growing older increases a person's chances of developing multiple myeloma. Most people with multiple myeloma are diagnosed after age 65, and multiple myeloma is rare among people who are younger than 40 years of age.
 
Race
The risk of multiple myeloma is highest among African Americans and lowest among Asian Americans. The reason for this difference between racial groups is not known.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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