Smoking, alcohol consumption and risk of multiple myeloma

Research from the EMMA study

Multiple myeloma is responsible for significant mortality and morbidity. Despite this, little is known about the modifiable causes of multiple myeloma, and no sizeable study has yet investigated this in Australia, which has the world’s highest incidence of the disease.

Few risk factors for multiple myeloma have been firmly established. With an average age at diagnosis of approximately 70 years, and steeply rising incidence with increasing age, multiple myeloma is mainly a disease of the older population.

PhD student Simon Cheah has been analysing EMMA Study data to investigate whether smoking or alcohol consumption is associated with multiple myeloma risk.

Specifically, he is investigating:

  1. Whether there is an association between alcohol consumption and risk of multiple myeloma.
  2. Whether there is an association between cigarette smoking and risk of multiple myeloma.
  3. Whether these associations differ between men and women.

Many of the studies examining tobacco or alcohol and multiple myeloma have been limited in scope or had methodological shortcomings. By investigating various aspects of tobacco and alcohol consumption in detail, and using  appropriate methodology, Simon hopes this study could advance knowledge about the causes of multiple myeloma, especially in the Australian context. This could facilitate future studies into the course of this disease and inform future prevention efforts.

Simon’s analysis is now being expanded to include controls from other RESoURCES studies, including CONFIRM. The additional data will allow researchers to be more confident of these findings. This is a good demonstration of the power of combining the RESoURCES studies.