Multiple Myeloma Causes and Risk Factors

Multiple Myeloma Causes and Risk Factors


The causes and risk factors for multiple myeloma are not really clear.

We know that it’s rare for more than one person in a family to get it. People related by blood have a slightly higher risk of getting a condition that’s similar to multiple myeloma.

Facts about multiple myeloma

  • It’s more common in males than females.
  • It’s more common among Black people, who also are diagnosed at a younger age.
  • The median age people are diagnosed is 69. Median means half of the people diagnosed with the disease are older than age 69, and half are younger.

Chemical exposure and multiple myeloma

Some chemicals can slightly raise your risk for multiple myeloma. For example, the disease is a bit more common among:

  • Agricultural (farm) workers who use pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Petrochemical and sheet metal workers.
  • People exposed to wood dust or fuel oil products.

In the New York area, there’s a higher risk for multiple myeloma and other plasma cell disorders among 9/11 first responders. We don’t know what environmental toxins or chemicals causes this.

Researching causes and risk factors of multiple myeloma

MSK is researching risk factors for all stages of plasma cell disorders, including multiple myeloma, MGUS, and SMM. We hope to better understand what causes these conditions. We’re looking at the roles of genetics, the immune system, and bone marrow.

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