Obese People at More Risk of Developing Blood Cancer — Study
NEW YORK — Obese people are more likely to have a benign blood condition that often precedes multiple myeloma (a blood cancer of the plasma cells), according to new research.
Researchers found that weight, smoking habits and exercise may impact one’s likelihood of developing multiple myeloma.
The benign blood condition, called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), is characterised by an abnormal protein produced by plasma cells, which is a known precursor to multiple myeloma. Most people with MGUS exhibit no significant symptoms and are not immediately ill.
Rather, the presence of MGUS serves as a warning to monitor for the potential development of more critical conditions, like multiple myeloma, that MGUS can turn into, said the study published in the journal Blood Advances.
“While significant advancements have been made in therapeutics for multiple myeloma, it remains an incurable disease, often diagnosed after patients have already experienced end-organ damage,” explained David Lee, an internal medicine resident at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Our research group is focused on investigating risk factors and etiology of MGUS to better understand who may be at increased risk for developing MGUS and its progression to multiple myeloma,” he added.
Investigators enrolled 2,628 individuals who were at elevated risk of developing multiple myeloma, based on self-identified race and family history of hematologic malignancies. Participants were screened for MGUS.
After controlling for age, sex, race, education, and income, the team found that being obese was associated with 73 per cent higher odds of having MGUS, compared to individuals with normal weights.
However, highly active individuals (defined as doing the equivalent of running or jogging 45-60 minutes per day or more) were less likely to have MGUS even after adjusting for BMI class, whereas those who reported heavy smoking and short sleep were more likely to also have detectable levels of MGUS. While investigators found a strong correlation between MGUS, obesity, and lifestyle factors, they do not have enough evidence to assume causation.
“These results guide our future research in understanding the influence of modifiable risk factors, such as weight, exercise, and smoking, on cancer risk,” explained Dr Lee.