Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma

A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition. It is possible to develop multiple myeloma with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing multiple myeloma. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Factors that may increase your risk of multiple myeloma include:

  • Age —Multiple myeloma is rare in people under 40 years old. It is most common those aged 65 years and older.
  • Family history —Although multiple myeloma tends to run in families, it is possible to have the disease without a family history.
  • Occupational or environmental exposures —Working in the petroleum or agriculture industries is associated with multiple myeloma. Radiation from a nuclear bomb fallout increases the risk of many blood-related cancers, including multiple myeloma. Radiation from other sources, such as medical treatments, may increase the risk, but it is not associated with many cases.
  • Ethnicity —Multiple myeloma rates in those of African American descent are nearly double those in Caucasians.
  • Medical conditions —Certain medical condition are associated with increased risk. These include:
    • Previous history of myeloma
    • Monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS)— The blood type of plasma protein, gamma globulin, combines with other proteins to make several antibodies. Normally many different types of gamma globulin are produced to deal with different infections. When most of the protein being produced is one particular form of gamma globulin, it results in monoclonal gammopathy
    • Obesity—Being overweight is associated with a increased risk of MGUS, a known risk factor for multiple myeloma. Risk is compounded as weight increases.
    • Amyloidosis—Abnormal proteins accumulate in various organs of the body. The accumulation of these proteins causes the affected organs to malfunction. Amyloidosis is rare, but it is associated with multiple myeloma.


General information about plasma cell neoplasms. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/myeloma/patient/myeloma-treatment-pdq. Updated August 5, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Multiple myeloma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116888/Multiple-myeloma. Updated November 21, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Multiple myeloma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated September 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Myeloma. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed March 16, 2017.
Multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html. Updated January 19, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/10/2016


EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

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.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.