22 January 2024

Obesity is linked to an increased risk of developing monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), according to a new analysis.

Research, published in Blood Advances, found being obese was associated with 73% increased odds of having MGUS, compared with individuals within normal weight ranges.

Researcher Dr David Lee, of Massachusetts General Hospital, said: “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. It's preceded by premalignant conditions including MGUS.”

Between February 2019 and March 2022, the research team enrolled 2,628 people from across the USA who had a high risk of developing multiple myeloma, based on self-identified race and family history of haematologic malignancies.

Participants were screened for MGUS using mass spectrometry.

After controlling for age, sex, race, education, and income, the team found that being obese was associated with 73% increased odds of having MGUS.

This association remained unchanged when accounting for physical activity. However, highly active individuals – who were 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.

Those who reported heavy smoking and short sleep were more likely to also have detectable levels of MGUS.

The authors of the cross-sectional study say there are limitations and despite finding a strong correlation between MGUS, obesity, and lifestyle factors, they do not have enough evidence to assume causation.

The researchers now aim to validate these findings in other study cohorts, including individuals who are followed longitudinally, to further explore the mechanisms through which obesity and other modifiable risk factors might influence the development and progression of MGUS.

Dr Lee said: “These results guide our future research in understanding the influence of modifiable risk factors, such as weight, exercise, and smoking, on cancer risk.

“Before we can develop effective preventative health strategies to lower the risk of serious diseases like multiple myeloma, we first need to better understand the relationship between MGUS and potentially modifiable risk factors like obesity.”


Lee DJ, El-Khoury H, Tramontano AC, Alberge JB, Perry J, Davis MI, Horowitz E, Redd RA, Sakrikar D, Barnidge D, Perkins MC, Harding S, Mucci L, Rebbeck TR, Ghobrial IM, Marinac CR. (2024) “Mass spectrometry-detected MGUS is associated with obesity and other novel modifiable risk factors in a high-risk population.” Blood Advances, doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2023010843

Link: https://ashpublications.org/bloodadvances/article/doi/10.1182/bloodadvances.2023010843/507117/Mass-spectrometry-detected-MGUS-is-associated-with

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