Tall women/heavy men at risk for myeloma

A blog reader (thanks!) sent me the link (http://tinyurl.com/6cvgnv) to an interesting bit of statistical news. In an attempt to test the hypothesis that increasing obesity (=impaired immunity) might be a reason for the growing number of cases of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or NHL, the “European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition” (EPIC) examined hundreds of cases all over Europe.* The results were published in “Haematologica” in October 2008.


The study concluded that height is a multiple myeloma (and NHL) risk factor for women just as weight is for men. Doesn’t that sound peculiar?


The full study is available at the above link, so I will quote only some of the relevant bits, as follows: Height was associated with overall non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma in women (RR 1.50, 95% CI 1.14–1.98) for highest versus lowest quartile; p-trend < 0.01) but not in men. Neither obesity (weight and body mass index) nor abdominal fat (waist-to-hip ratio, waist or hip circumference) measures were positively associated with overall non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. This part then examines the risk associated with large B-cell lymphoma (heavier women are at risk) and follicular lymphoma (ditto for taller women).


MM has also been examined in a number of studies. In contrast to our finding of an elevated risk of MM among taller women, the Iowa women’s cohort study observed no association. Among men, the most prominent MM risk factors were weight, BMI and WC as categorized according to well-established definitions. (BMI=body mass index; WC=waist circumference.)


Factors that have been associated with multiple myeloma (MM) include high doses of ionizing radiation, and occupational exposure to products used in farming and petrochemical industries. Not my case, as far as I know.


In conclusion, the study found that height was a strong risk factor for NHL and MM risk in women.


A strong risk factor, eh? That’s quite a statement. My height would not get me into the book of Guinness World Records, but, growing up, I was always the tallest girl in my class. Always. This did not make me happy, mind you. In all of my (Italian) school photos, I am always stuck in the back with the tallest boys. All of the other girls were much shorter than I. And, come to think of it, so were most of the boys. A nightmare, back then. I am now 1.73 meters tall, which I think is about 5 foot 7 inches. Do I qualify as tall? Not sure. And why is tallness a risk factor for myeloma, anyway? The study doesn’t go into that, unless I missed a crucial part.


At any rate, according to this study, you are safe from developing multiple myeloma if you are a short, fat or thin woman, OR a thin, tall or short man…

*The EPIC is a multicenter prospective cohort study designed to examine the association between nutrition and cancer. […] participants were enrolled from the general population between 1993–1998 at 23 centers in ten European countries: Denmark (Åarhus, Copenhagen), France, Germany (Heidelberg, Potsdam), Greece, Italy (Florence, Varese, Ragusa, Turin, Naples), the Netherlands (Bilthoven, Utrecht), Norway (Lund), Spain (Asturias, Granada, Murcia, Navarra, San Sebastian), Sweden (Malmö, Umea) and the United Kingdom (Cambridge, Oxford).


  1. In addition to conventional medicine, we do other things to slow the progress of myeloma: We take curcumin, take other supplements, exercise regularly, whatever. Do you suppose that we MEN might do better if we also got down to our ideal weight?

  2. I do not fit any of the profiles for a person with MM, including this one. I’m a low down person…5’1″!! I know very few people shorter than me. Maybe these stats are a coincidence. Interesting though! Apparently, MM is no respecter of persons, tall or short!

  3. nope – 5’7 is 168 (or so I’d like to think) – you would be 5’8.
    mom is 163 which is not tall by any means and she still has it.
    By the way, since we got the good news that mom is not at risk I have told her to reduce her curcumin intake from 8g to 4g based on something I read in your blog. You mentioned that curcumin only works for 18 months so I sort of thought if one doesn’t take the max dosage, effectiveness stays for longer – I understand that my logic is beyond the old wives’ tales:) but what do you think – does it really stop working after a while?

  4. Yana, where did I mention that curcumin works only for 18 months? I am baffled.

    The truth is that I have no way of knowing if or when curcumin may stop working against my myeloma cells. I like to think/hope that it will keep me stable until I find something better, also non-toxic etc. But, who knows? Myeloma cells are resilient little buggers. If they can become resistant to chemo drugs, why not to curcumin? One must be realistic.

    In any event, I am currently way past that puzzling 18-month-mark that you mentioned. I have been taking curcumin for more than 3 years, or 36 months, now…and it’s still working.

    The only time I tried 4 grams was a couple of years ago, and that happened by mistake. I had misread the serving size information on the bottle of curcumin. So I thought I was taking 8 grams, but it was only 4 grams…needless to say, my subsequent tests weren’t that great.

    8 grams is not the maximum dosage, by the way. Study participants have taken up to 12 grams a day. 8 grams seems to be the correct dose for me, but perhaps for someone else it could be lower. The only way to find out is to try…a lower dose.

  5. I also read here (www.projectweightloss.com) about what causes multiple myeloma and, wow, I didn’t know about the different effects and risks on women and men.

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