Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma and Other Plasma Cell Disorders

Multiple Myeloma

It is still largely unknown what causes multiple myeloma to form and there are no known ways to prevent it. While there are currently no obvious risk factors for multiple myeloma, some factors have been identified that may increase a person’s risk of developing multiple myeloma. These risk factors don’t automatically determine a person’s chance of developing the disease, but they do increase the general risk associated with a diagnosis and are important to be aware of.  

Age: The risk of developing multiple myeloma increases as a person’s age increases. A majority of patients are diagnosed in their 60s or 70s and most are rarely diagnosed under the age of 40.

Sex: Males are more likely to develop multiple myeloma than women. While the distinction is not drastic, there is a higher level of males diagnosed per year than women.

Race: The reasons remain unclear at this time, but multiple myeloma occurs more frequently in black people than in white people. Myeloma is present in at least double the black patients compared to other races or ethnicities and black patients are less likely to receive myeloma treatment.

Family history: While multiple myeloma is not considered to be a hereditary disease, family history is still considered a risk factor. Individuals with a first-degree relative (sibling, parent, or child) with multiple myeloma have a higher risk of developing the disease down the line.

Personal history: Individuals with a personal history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or other plasma cell disorders are at an increased risk for developing multiple myeloma at a later date.


There are different types of amyloidosis depending on the area of the body affected. Amyloidosis can be hereditary or caused by inflammatory disease or long-term dialysis. Not all risk factors automatically assume a person will develop amyloidosis, but they are important to be aware of and monitor.

Age: Most amyloidosis diagnoses are made between the age of 60-70. Early onset disease is possible but is less common.

Sex: Males are more likely to develop amyloidosis than women. Women still develop the disease, but a higher level of males is diagnosed per year.

Other diseases: Already being diagnosed with inflammatory disease or having a chronic infectious disease increases the risk of developing amyloidosis.

Family history: Some types of amyloidosis are hereditary. While this does not mean all people with a family history will develop the disease or all people without a family history will not, there is an increased risk associated with a family history.  

Kidney dialysis: Abnormal proteins can build up in the blood and deposit into the tissues of patients receiving dialysis when dialysis can’t remove large proteins from the blood. This has become less common with modern dialysis techniques.

Race: People of African descent have a higher risk of carrying a genetic mutation associated with amyloidosis. This type of amyloidosis is hereditary and can specifically harm the heart.  

Weill Cornell Medicine Myeloma Center 425 East 61st St
8th Floor
New York, NY 10065 Phone: (646) 962-6500 Fax: (212) 746-8961