Cancer Risk Factors to Know About and Avoid

cancer risk factors

The development of cancer is a series of events taking over a period of time. During that timeframe, the originally healthy cells get damaged and the formation of malignant tissues takes place. Eventually, malignant tissues cause symptoms. A logical way to find out the preventive measures for cancer, it is rather easier to consider several cancer risk factors. Then it will be easy to determine which one is easy or difficult and what we do need in the first step.

Usually, it is very difficult to know why one has to suffer from cancer when another person doesn’t. But over the years researchers and scientists have shown that there are certain factors responsible for cancer. People get exposed to such factors such as chemical substances along with factors they have no control over like- family history and ages.

Epidemiology studies have identified most risk factors for cancer. Here researchers take a person affected by cancer and test against the person who doesn’t have that disease. When the scientists see that the factors identified in most of the studies are showing similar association with increased risk of cancer, they get assurance about the factors.

Attributable Proportion of Cancer Risk Factors

Scientists, scholars, and researchers have attempted various ways to relates cancer risk factors associated with cancer with each other. They have shown that individuals can change the use of the factors which they influence through actions as a prevention measure. As a result, this prevention can reduce 43% of the new cancer cases.

When it is clearly not known how these risk factors affect different human bodies, here you can find out the most popular risk factors. These risk factors may vary over the regions depending on socio-economic behavior, health condition and other factors of the population.


Age is one of the key cancer risk factors. You can associate most of the cancers with this factor. More a person ages, the risk of cancer increases and preventive measures weaken.

NCI’s statistical data from a program shows that 66 years is the specified median age of cancer diagnosis. This clearly indicates half of the cases of the cancer occur in a person below 66 years while others above 66 years.

Similarly, a pattern can be shown for different types of cancers. For examples to be given- specific median age of diagnosis is- for colorectal cancer 68 years, for breast cancer 61 years, for lung cancer 70 years, etc.

But one may get affected by this cancer disease at any age. Like, the cases of bone cancer are mostly observable among the population aged 20 years or below. Cases like Leukemia, Neuroblastoma is common among the children and adolescent of ages of below 20 years rather than adults.


Cancer of esophagus, larynx and oral cavity, the liver can occur due to excessive exposure to alcohol. Even doctors consider alcohol as one of the prime breast cancer risk factors for women. Though risks vary over different cancer sites, it increases with increasing consumption of alcohol.

Some cases show that alcohol gets mixed up with the blood and can create damage all over the body. It can harm the body cells. So more one drinks, more risky it will be to get affected by cancer.

The astonishing fact is while in high-income countries moderate alcohol consumption has some health benefits, it can’t be applicable in developing countries. As a measure of cancer prevention, Doctors are suggesting that women should go for the habit one day-one drink. And for men it is not more than three drinks per day.

Cancer-causing Factors

Another major one among the cancer risk factors is cancer-causing substances. Generally changes in some specific genes which bring alteration in the way our gene function can cause cancer.

When the cell division process is taking place, the DNA gets replicated and some of the genetic changes occur naturally. But the others are just a result of exposure to different environmental factors. Such as- exposure to sun rays, using tobacco, etc.

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While you may be able to avoid some of the cancer-causing factors, some are unavoidable. You can find those cases if the factors are present in the water you drink, the air you breathe. The materials that we use for our jobs or the food we eat may contain such factors which we can hold responsible for cancer.

The scientist is finding out the factors responsible for the cancer-development. Here you can find out some substances that are carcinogens to the human body. Such as- Aristolochic Acids, Aflatoxins, Asbestos, Arsenic, Benzidine, Benzene, Beryllium, etc.

Chronic inflammation

Next, you can come to another one of the cancer risk factors, chronic inflammation. Inflammation at its normal stage is a very common physiological response when a person gets hurt. The tissue of the affected area gets damaged. And the process of inflammation starts when the wounded tissue releases chemicals.

In the case when inflammation is chronic, the process of inflammation starts, though there is injury. Causes like an infection that didn’t go away or abnormality in immune reactions to our normal tissues can lead to this situation. And over time this chronic inflammation causes damage in DNA and leads to cancer.

In some cases, people who have chronic inflammatory diseases like Crohn Disease and Ulcerative Colitis may turn into causes of cancer like Colon Cancer.


Many researchers have shown that some nutrients or specific components in diet may increase or decrease the risk of cancer. In the laboratory studies on cancer cells of pets have provided sometimes that some isolated compounds are carcinogenic. For the human body, there is not enough evidence yet.

Scientists have come out with a result where we can find some nutrients or dietary components that have an association with. We here include two significant ones-

Acrylamide is one such component that we can found in tobacco use and some food. When we heat certain vegetables like a potato to a certain level of temperature, these components are produced. Research papers are showing these components are one of the causes of cancer.

Charred Meat can release factors like HCAs and PAHs when we cook muscle meat including pork, beef, fish, and poultry using the high-temperature method. Exposure to a high level of such factors causes cancer in animals.


Some hormones present in the human body act as a human carcinogen, such as- Estrogens. Though it has an important physiological role in both men and women bodies, doctors are linking it with cancer-causing factors.

Some treatments like menopausal therapy where doctors use estrogens along with progestin are one of the increased breast cancer risk factors. Besides, these studies have shown that women’s breast cancer has a direct relation with progesterone and estrogen released from ovaries. High exposure to these factors increases the chance of cancer.

During 1940-71 doctors used to give a specific form of estrogen, Diethylstilbestrol (DES) to pregnant women to prevent difficulties. Women who take DES during their pregnancy have high chances to get affected by breast cancer. Besides, their daughters may have a high probability of getting affected by cervix or the vaginal cancer.

Immunosuppression of Drugs

Immunosuppression of drugs to patients is one of the cancer risk factors. Suppose a patient has gone through organ-transplantations, doctors prescribe medicines to suppress someone’s immune system so that the body can cope up with the organ. These types of drugs usually make the body less immune to fight off cancer.

Research papers have shown that these types of drugs increase the risk of different cancer for transplant recipients. For some of the infectious agents are the sole causes. Among different cancer that may occur from such drugs, four are most famous. They are Cancer of kidney, lung, liver non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

People with HIV/AIDS also have high risks of getting affected by cancer. And scientists, doctors are saying that these infections are one of the increased lung cancer risk factors that others may not think of.


You can refer to obesity as one of the risk factors of cancer. A person is who overweight or obese has a higher chance of getting affected by cancer. Keeping an unhealthy diet and keeping unhealthy weight leads to cancer.

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Being obese can be a possible reason behind thirteen different cancer cases. To very few are cancers of the breast (for women going through menopause), colon, rectum, endometrium, kidney, and pancreas. Though the reasons are unknown, it is good to lose weight to reduce the risk of cancer.


Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of cancer and also death from the cancer. People who use tobacco in any form or live regularly in an environment of tobacco smoke are mostly prone to cancer. The reason behind it is that tobacco contains some chemicals which are active in cell damage.

Tobacco use leads to many types of cancer– cancer of larynx, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach and so on. Scientists and doctors consider this is as the prime of all lung cancer risk factors. if a person is a smokeless tobacco that will expose him to cancers in the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.


High exposure to sunlight leads to cancer. Direct sun rays, sunlamps, and tanning booths- these are sources of the ultraviolet ray. Once these sources radiate these UV rays, these rays cause early aging of skin and skin damages. Skin damages further lead to cell damages further leading to a higher probability of ski9n cancer.


This is one of the common reasons why cancer can happen to us. Radiation of a certain wavelength, known as ionizing radiation comes with a lot of energy to damage cells. The condition can lead to cancer. Ionizing radiation includes X-rays, radon, Gamma-ray and more.

Infectious Agents

There are few infectious agents like viruses, parasites, and bacteria that may cause or raise the riskiness involved in cancer formation in the body. Some viruses are there which can prevent signaling which keeps cell growth in check.

Some infections make the immune system weak so that the body can’t fight off the cancer-causing factors. Again some parasites, viruses, and bacteria can be the cause of chronic inflammation thus leading to cancer.

Many of the infectious agents that are highly linked with cancer may pass from one human body to others through blood or other kind of body fluids. Some famous infectious agents are-Epstein-Barr Virus, Hepatitis B or C virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Human Papilloma Viruses, etc. For cancer prevention doctors often recommend for not having unprotected sex, getting vaccinated and so on.

Genes and Chromosomes

Abnormalities occurring in genes or chromosomes cam contribute to the higher risk of cancer development. Genes produce a protein that helps for body growth or cell division. So, abnormality appears due to the damage caused by chemicals, sun rays, drugs, viruses, and other environmental issues. Some inherit abnormal genes from family.

Two major types of the genes involved in cancer are oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Oncogenes increase cancer risk factors between these above mention two genes.

Oncogenes are mutated genes which in normal forms help for cell growth. These genes include HER2, cause of breast cancer and EGFR, cause of Lung Cancer. Some oncogenes signal cells to multiply in an uncontrolled manner leading to cancer.

Again abnormal structure of chromosome may increase the risk of cancer. Suppose a person has Down syndrome, he will have three instead of two copies of Chromosome 21. Then that person has 12 to 20 times higher risk of affected by acute leukemia.

Cancer prevention

Though researches say in the coming ages the number breakout of cancer will increase, doctors are taking measures and doing researches to know more about the cancer cell and more cancer risk factors. And undeniably they have improved their style of diagnosis and come with a measure for cancer prevention.

But not waiting for the new breakout, scientists are suggesting taking personal initiatives from the very beginning. Though there are screening tests to identify whether there is any malignant cell or not, you have to be careful about the symptoms.

While scientists are saying to avoid tobacco use in any form, they are also suggesting for proper eating and daily physical exercise. Alcohol usage, avoiding unnecessary exposure to radiation and sun rays are also another measure for cancer prevention.

Doctors are recommending to have a sound sleep a priority a. Moreover, consuming vitamin D is reduces the risk of having cancer.