Reducing your risk for multiple myeloma

You may lower your risk of developing multiple myeloma by doing the following.

Have a healthy body weight

Research shows that overweight or obesity increases your risk for multiple myeloma. Eating well and being physically active can help you have a healthy body weight.

Avoid exposure to harmful substances in the workplace

People who work on a farm have a higher risk of developing multiple myeloma. This may be linked to working with certain harmful substances, such as pesticides. You may also be exposed to harmful substances in other occupations. To protect yourself from harmful materials at work:

  • Know what substances cause cancer. Avoid or lower your exposure to cancer-causing products.
  • Follow safety rules when working with chemicals and other hazardous substances.
  • Wear protective clothing and equipment to minimize exposure to potentially harmful materials.
  • Avoid or reduce the time you are exposed to harmful materials.

Find out more about protecting yourself from pesticides at work.

Protect yourself from viral infections

Some viral infections may increase the risk for multiple myeloma. These include hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV, which can lead to AIDS. You can lower your risk of infection with these viruses.

  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis B virus.
  • Practise safer sex by using a condom and avoiding blood-to-blood contact during sex.
  • Don’t share needles or other drug-use equipment. If you use intravenous drugs, participate in a needle exchange program.
  • Wear latex gloves when you come into contact with someone else’s blood.
  • Make sure all equipment is clean and sterile when you get a tattoo, body piercing or acupuncture. Needles should always be new, not used. They should never be homemade.

Canadian Blood Services tests every blood donation for hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV. Since only blood that passes these tests is used, the risk of contracting hepatitis or HIV through a blood transfusion in Canada is very low.

Find out if you’re at high risk for multiple myeloma

Some people can have a higher than average risk for multiple myeloma. Talk to your doctor about your risk. If you are at higher than average risk, you may need to visit your doctor more often to check for multiple myeloma. Your doctor will recommend what tests you should have and how often you should have them.

More information about reducing your risk of cancer

Learn how cancer can be prevented and what you can do to reduce your risk.

Expert review and references

  • Badras A . Epidemiology and risk factors of multiple myeloma: Insights into incidence and etiology. Sekeres, M. A., Kalaycio, M. E., & Bolwell, B. J. Clinical Malignant Hematology. New York: McGraw Hill Medical; 2007: IV(80): pp. 833-845.
  • Brown LM, Gridley G, Pottern LM, et al . Diet and nutrition as risk factors for multiple myeloma among blacks and whites in the United States. Cancer Causes & Control. Springer; 2001.
  • De Roos AJ, Baris D, Weiss NS, et al . Multiple myeloma. Schottenfeld, D. & Fraumeni, J. F. Jr. (eds.). Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2006: 47: pp. 919-945.
  • Government of Canada. HIV/AIDS. Ottawa, ON: Government of Canada; 2015: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/diseases-conditions-maladies-affections/disease-maladie/hiv-vih-eng.php.
  • Hosgood, HD, et al . Diet and risk of multiple myeloma in Connecticut women. Cancer Causes & Control. Springer; 2007.
  • Public Health Agency of Canada. Hepatitis B: Get the Facts. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2014: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hcai-iamss/bbp-pts/hepatitis/hep_b-eng.php.
  • Public Health Agency of Canada. Hepatitis C: Get the Facts. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2015: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hepc/pubs/getfacts-informezvous/index-eng.php.
  • Purdue MP, Hofmann JN, Brown EE and Vachon CM . Multiple Myeloma. Thun MJ (ed.). Schottenfeld and Fraumeni Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 4th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2018: 41: 797-814.
  • Reeves GK, Pirie K, Beral V, et al . Cancer incidence and mortality in relation to body mass index in the Million Women Study: cohort study. British Medical Journal (BMJ). BMJ Publishing Group Ltd; 2007.