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Obesity Linked To Higher Risk Of Blood Cancer Precursor

Obese individuals 73% more likely to have MGUS, a condition preceding multiple myeloma, warns study.

Researchers found that obese people are 73 percent more likely to have monoclonal gammopathy (MGUS), a benign blood condition that often precedes multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight infection. 


Most people with MGUS exhibit no significant symptoms and are not immediately ill but the presence of it serves as a warning for the development of critical conditions like multiple myeloma.


Obesity is a factor that can cause this condition is believed to be concerning by the American Society of Hematology researchers due to the 42 percent of the US population that is considered obese (defined by a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.)


“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,” said Dr. David Lee from Massachusetts General Hospital.


“It’s preceded by premalignant conditions including MGUS. 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.


To get their results the team studied 2,628 individuals from across the United States who were at elevated risk of developing multiple myeloma from 2019-2022. Participants were then screened for MGUS by identification of certain proteins in the blood.


Results, published in Blood Advances, showed that being obese was associated with 73 percent higher odds of having MGUS, compared to individuals with normal weights. They also found that those who reported heavy smoking and short sleep were more likely to have detectable levels of MGUS.


In contrast, they saw that highly active individuals–defined as those who do the equivalent of running or jogging at least 45-60 minutes per day– were less likely to have MGUS. The researchers hope to study these links further and intend to explore more effective ways of measuring obesity than BMI.


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


“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,” he added.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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