DNA

The Risk for Multiple Myeloma

DNAIt’s a mystery what actually causes multiple myeloma.  This is a type of blood cancer and certain things can raise your chances of getting it.  Specifically your age, race and whether you have a family member with the disease, all play a role.  Having only one of these risks does not mean you will get sick as you can come down with the condition without even one of them.

If you are at an older age, your risk is higher for multiple myeloma.  Nearly everyone who gets this particular cancer is over 45 years old and 2/3rd are over 65.  No one knows why exactly but the risk for most type of cancer gets higher as you age and might be because of the changes in your genes during your life.

African-American’s have twice the risk of getting multiple myeloma than whites do.  Again, the researchers aren’t sure why this is. One possibility is that African-Americans have a higher chance of getting a blood disorder called MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance).  Having this condition will put you at risk for multiple myeloma and this group of people may also be more likely than whites to get multiple myeloma if they already have MGUS. The odds for the African-American is higher of having a protein in your body called pP-7, which is also linked with multiple myeloma risks.

Women are not as likely to get multiple myeloma as men, but it isn’t by much.

You have a higher risk for multiple myeloma if you already have certain other blood disorders. MGUS is the main one, and not everyone who has MGUS gets multiple myeloma. Everyone with multiple myeloma has MGUS before they develop cancer.

Genetic changes are linked with multiple myeloma, family history and obesity.  These genes are tiny strands in your body made up of DNA. It’s unknown why obesity affects how certain hormones behave and also with insulin resistance, which is when your body can’t process sugar properly.

Working in certain industries such as oil and agriculture will give you a higher risk of multiple myeloma.  Most likely because you are more likely to come into contact with certain hazardous chemicals. Studies show that benzene, found in gasoline, may be one of them.  It was also found that while engine exhaust was connected with multiple myeloma, a chemical other than benzene was probably to blame.

Pesticides and fertilizers may also raise your risk.  Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, the herbicide used to destroy plants in jungles, had a higher risk of MGUS.  This agent contains a chemical called TCDD, which has been linked to various cancers.

Dr Fredda Branyon

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