Multiple myeloma is an uncommon disease, with approximately 12,000 cases per year diagnosed in America. Blacks have had at least double the risk of being diagnosed with myeloma, and have had twice the mortality rate from the disease compared to whites. Research of the origins of this difference has yielded both insight and controversy. Obesity is likely a risk factor for myeloma, in both blacks and whites. Obesity is more prevalent in the black population, and this may help explain some of the increased incidence of myeloma. Also, genetic factors such as HLA antigens and family history seem to be important in explaining the differential risk of myeloma. Exposure to immunological challenges, especially urinary tract infections in black men, seems important in explaining some of the excess risk in blacks. Factors such as socioeconomic status, dietary preferences, vitamin intake, alcohol and tobacco use, either lack a consensus finding, or may not play a role in explaining the increased myeloma morbidity and mortality in blacks.
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