Myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma, is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells, an important component of the immune system. Understanding the causes and risk factors of myeloma can help individuals identify potential warning signs and seek early medical intervention. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know about myeloma with a search online, which could help you spot the warning signs.
What Causes Myeloma?
Myeloma is a disease that happens because of a mix of things like genes and the environment, but we don’t know exactly what causes it. Scientists think that certain changes in genes and problems with plasma cells can make myeloma happen. One important gene factor is when there are changes in the chromosomes, especially in a gene called immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH). These changes in chromosomes can mess up how plasma cells work and make them grow out of control.
Also, being exposed to certain things in the environment can increase the chances of getting myeloma. If someone is around certain chemicals for a long time, like benzene and pesticides, or if they are exposed to radiation, it could raise their risk. But it’s important to know that these things alone are not enough to cause myeloma. They might make the risk higher for people who already have genes that make them more likely to get the disease.
Age and Gender
As people get older, their chances of getting myeloma increase. Most cases of myeloma happen in people who are over 60 years old, although it can affect people of any age. We’re not exactly sure why older people are more at risk, but it might be because they have been exposed to things in the environment for a longer time, their genes have changed over the years, and their immune system is not as strong as it used to be.
Also, myeloma is a bit more common in men than in women. We don’t know the exact reason for this, but it could be because of a combination of things like how people live their lives and their genes.
In addition to age and gender, body weight may be another potential risk factor for myeloma. Body weight, particularly excess weight or obesity, may increase your risk of developing myeloma. In fact, recent studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between body mass index (BMI) and the likelihood of developing myeloma.
The connection between being overweight and the risk of getting myeloma is complicated and involves many different factors. One idea is that when a person is overweight, they have more fat in their body. This fat can produce substances and hormones that can cause inflammation and change how the immune system works. These changes in the body can make it more likely for myeloma to develop and get worse. However, we still need more research to fully understand how weight affects the risk of myeloma and how things like managing weight might help with the disease.
Another possible risk factor for myeloma is having a family history of the disease. Individuals with a first-degree relative, such as a parent, sibling, or child, who has been diagnosed with myeloma have a higher risk of developing the condition themselves. The presence of myelomas or other related conditions, such as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or smoldering myeloma, in multiple family members further increases the risk.
Other Possible Risk Factors
There are several other factors that may contribute to the development of myeloma. While further research is needed to establish conclusive evidence, these factors warrant consideration:
- Race and Ethnicity: Myeloma occurs more frequently in individuals of African descent, followed by individuals of European and Asian descent.
- Radiation Exposure: High levels of exposure to ionizing radiation, such as radiation therapy have been linked to an increased risk of myeloma. However, the risk from everyday exposure to sources like X-rays or CT scans is generally considered to be minimal.
- Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS): MGUS is a condition characterized by the presence of abnormal protein (M protein) in the blood but without other signs or symptoms of myeloma. MGUS itself is not cancerous, but individuals with MGUS have an increased risk of developing myeloma over time.
- Weak Immune System: Conditions or treatments that suppress the immune system, such as certain autoimmune diseases, organ transplantation, or prolonged use of immunosuppressive medications, may contribute to an elevated risk of myeloma.
Learn More About Myeloma Today
It’s important to note that just because you have these risk factors doesn’t mean you will definitely get myeloma. And even if you don’t have these risk factors, it doesn’t mean you’re completely safe from the disease. Myeloma is a complicated disease with many different causes, and each person’s risk is different.
To take care of yourself, do your research and be aware of all possible causes and risk factors and discuss any concerns with your doctor. Fortunately, you can learn more by searching online right now!