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Multiple myeloma

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Reducing your risk for multiple myeloma

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

Maintain a healthy body weight and eat a healthy diet

Research shows that being overweight or obese increases your risk of multiple myeloma. You can lower your risk by having a healthy body weight. Eating well and being physically active can help you have a healthy body weight.

Eating a healthy diet that includes vegetables, fish and foods high in vitamin C may help to reduce the risk of developing multiple myeloma.

Protect yourself from harmful materials at work

Research has shown that people who work on a farm have a higher risk of developing multiple myeloma. Others who appear to have a higher than average risk are people who work with paint (especially aerosol, or spray, paint), firefighters, and those who work with pesticides, benzene, ethylene oxide, wood dust and wood preservatives. To protect yourself from harmful materials at work:

  • Use the smallest amount of pesticides possible or use safer alternatives.
  • Wear protective clothing and equipment to minimize exposure to potentially harmful materials.
  • Avoid or reduce the time you are exposed to harmful materials.

Protect yourself from viral infections

Some viral infections may increase the risk of multiple myeloma. These include hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), which can lead to AIDS. You can reduce the risk of getting these viral infections.

  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis B virus.
  • Practise safer sex. Using a condom will protect against hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV.
  • Do not share needles or other drug-use equipment. Participate in a needle exchange program if you use intravenous drugs.
  • 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. Never allow anyone to use homemade or reused needles, ink or jewellery.

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.

Take medicines as directed

Some types of medicines have been linked to developing multiple myeloma. It’s important that you take medicines as prescribed by your doctor. Tell your doctor what types of non-prescription medicines you take. Read the label to see how much to take and how often to take them.

Find out if you’re high risk

People who have a family history of multiple myeloma or a personal history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) have a higher than average risk for multiple myeloma. Talk to your doctor about your risk. If it’s higher than average, you may need to go for regular checkups and have regular blood and urine tests.

Ask questions

To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about risks.

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