A person’s age, lifestyle, environment, genetic makeup, and family history can increase the likelihood of developing cancer and these are called risk factors for cancer. An increase in age is the most important risk factor for cancer. The median age at diagnosis for all cancers combined is 66 years. And one-fourth of new diagnoses are in people ages 65 to 74.
Most common risk factors for cancer:
- Many risk factors for cancer are related to a person’s lifestyle or overall health.
- Excess body weight contributes to one in five cancer-related deaths in the U.S.
- Obesity increases the risk of breast, colorectal, and other types of cancer.
- Carcinogens are substances that cause cancer by damaging DNA. One common example of a carcinogen is tobacco, a proven cause of cancer. A person can expose to tobacco by smoking cigarettes, cigars, or cigarillos, or by using snuff or chewing tobacco. They can also expose by inhaling tobacco smoke from smokers nearby. Nowadays this is called environmental tobacco smoke or secondhand smoke. As depicted on the screen, smoking accounts for at least three out of ten cancer deaths in the U.S. Tobacco is most infamously associated with lung cancer, but it also causes throat, stomach, pancreatic, and many other cancers. This is the major risk factor for cancer.
- Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver, colon, and breast and considered as a risk factor for cancer. The more a person drinks, the more likely they are to develop cancer. Those who drink alcohol and also use tobacco have on high risk of developing cancer.
- Environmental and chemical carcinogens are responsible for up to 19 percent of cancer cases. Individuals may expose to carcinogens if they work in certain mining, welding, agricultural, manufacturing, printing, or painting industries. In which they are exposed to substances such as those shown here. Exposure to these substances may lead to many types of cancer, including lung and bladder cancers and leukemia.
- Natural and artificial UV rays from the sun or tanning beds can increase the risk factor of developing skin cancers, including melanoma, basal cell skin cancer, and squamous cell skin cancer.
- Some viruses, such as Human Papillomaviruses, Hepatitis B Virus, Hepatitis C Virus, and several others can increase your risk of cancer either by damaging DNA, causing chronic inflammation, or weakening the immune system.
Is genetic mutation a risk factor for cancer?
Yes, you can say. It’s important to be aware of your risk factors for cancer, even those you can’t prevent. For example, inherited genetic mutations play a major role in 5 to 10 percent of cancers. In breast and ovarian cancers, certain mutations also cause cancer for example mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are well-known risk factors.
Genetic tests can tell whether a person has one or more of the inherited mutations that can increase cancer risk. However, not everyone who inherits the mutation will develop cancer and remain healthy.
Talk with your doctor about genetic testing if you think you may have inherited a mutation that increases your cancer risk. You can also ask about prevention and testing related to HPV, Hepatitis B and C, HIV, and other infections. To reduce your overall cancer risk, maintain a healthy weight