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. Updated April 9, 2019. Accessed May 2, 2019.
Multiple myeloma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116888/Multiple-myeloma. Updated March 29, 2019. Accessed May 2, 2019.
Multiple myeloma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/plasma-cell-disorders/multiple-myeloma. Updated May 2018. Accessed May 2, 2019.
Myeloma. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: https://www.lls.org/disease-information/myeloma. Accessed May 2, 2019.
Risk factors for multiple myeloma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/multiple-myeloma/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html. Updated February 28, 2018. Accessed May 2, 2019.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/2/2019

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