News Note: In Women, Abnormal Protein Associated with Myeloma Risk Now Linked to Obesity, Race

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  • Posted: April 26, 2010
NCI Press Office


In a recent study published in the journal Blood, researchers from the NCI have reported an association between obesity, African-American race, and a condition associated with an increased risk of multiple myeloma. The condition, known as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, or MGUS, is marked by the presence of abnormal levels of a protein in the blood. Previous studies have found that multiple myeloma is two to three times more common in African-Americans than Caucasians, and up to two times more common in obese persons than non-obese persons. Other studies have found that multiple myeloma is almost always preceded by MGUS.

The researchers screened 1000 African-American women and 996 Caucasian women of similar socioeconomic status to determine if there was an association between race, obesity, and risk of MGUS. The study showed that, independent of race, MGUS was twice as common among obese women. In addition, African-American women were twice as likely to test positive for MGUS. In this study, the group with the highest risk of developing MGUS was older, obese, African-American women. Socioeconomic status was not associated with MGUS. Further research is needed to better understand the biological underpinnings of these findings. To view the paper, go to: (subscription required)