The incidence of multiple myeloma is more frequent in men than women. Although female sex hormones are known to have immunomodulatory effects, they may not significantly affect the risk of multiple myeloma, according to an article published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention.1

Seven case-control studies were included in a pooled analysis in the International Multiple Myeloma Consortium, and there were 1,072 female cases and 3,542 female controls with data on reproductive factors and exogenous hormone use.

Reproductive factors, including ever giving birth (odds ratio [OR]=.65; 95% CI=.68-1.25) and treatment with hormonal contraception (OR=1.04; 95% CI= .80-1.36), did not impact multiple myeloma etiology.

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Non-significant reductions were apparent in patients who received postmenopausal hormone therapy in comparison to those who did not, but this varied across different centers (OR=.65; 95% CI=.37-1.15; P-heterogeneity= .01).

Authors concluded that the decreased incidence rates of multiple myeloma in females may be attributed to sex hormones; however, this association was inconclusive within this analysis despite the large sample size.


  1. Costas L, Lambert BH, Birmann BM, et al. A pooled analysis of reproductive factors, exogenous hormone use and risk of multiple myeloma among women in the International Multiple Myeloma Consortium [published online ahead of print October 13, 2015] Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0953.