o date, no cause for myeloma has been identified. Some research has suggested possible associations with a decline in the immune system, specific occupations, exposure to certain chemicals, and exposure to radiation. For example, the likelihood of multiple myeloma is higher than average among people in agricultural occupations, petroleum workers, workers in leather industries, and cosmetologists. Exposure to herbicides, insecticides, petroleum products, heavy metals, plastics, and various dusts including asbestos also appear to be risk factors for the disease. However, none of these associations is strong, and in most cases, multiple myeloma develops in individuals who have no known risk factors. Genetic factors may also be involved in the development of multiple myeloma.
The most significant risk factor for multiple myeloma is age, as 96% of cases are diagnosed in people older than 45 years, and more than 63% are diagnosed in people older than 65 years. Thus, it is thought that susceptibility to myeloma may increase with the aging process.
It is uncommon for myeloma to develop in more than one member of a family. This means that if you have myeloma, you probably do not need to worry about the disease developing in another family member. There is a slightly increased risk of myeloma occurring in children or siblings of individuals who have the disease.