Risk Factors

Do I have any chance of getting cancer ?

According to the National Cancer Institute, a risk factor is anything that increases or decreases the chances that a person will develop a disease. Although doctors do not explain why one person develops the disease and another does not, researchers have identified specific factors that increase the chances that a person will develop certain cancers.

Risk factors for cancer can be divided into four groups:

  • Risk factors related to the conduct apply the things you do, like smoking, drinking alcohol, using tanning beds, eating unhealthy foods, being overweight and not exercising enough.
  • The environmental risk factors include things the surrounding environment, such as UV radiation, exposure to secondhand smoke snuff, pollution, pesticides and other toxins.
  • Biological risk factors are physical characteristics such as sex, race or ethnicity, age and skin color.
  • Hereditary risk factors are associated with specific gene mutations that are inherited from parents. It has a higher chance of getting cancer if it inherits one of these gene mutations.

Most cancer risk factors associated with behavior and the environment can be avoided. Biological factors and hereditary risk are inevitable, but it is important to know them so you can discuss them with your doctor and undergo cancer screening tests if necessary.

What can I do?

Remember that many people with cancer have no known risk factors and that most people who have risk factors fail to contract the disease. It is therefore important to go to the doctor for regular checkups and to discuss with him the cancer screening tests are right for you.

What are the risk factors for different types of cancer?

What are the risk factors for different types of cancer?
Breast Cancer

  • Age: Most cases occur in women 50 years or older.
  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer before menopause (mother, sister or daughter)
  • Abnormal results of a breast biopsy
  • Ductal or lobular carcinoma in situ or atypical hyperplasia
  • Menstruation before age 12
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Never having been pregnant or having a first child after age 30
  • High educational and socioeconomic status
  • Women in this group tend to have fewer children
  • Obesity or weight gain after menopause
  • Hormonal treatment
  • Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
  • Other suspected risk factors are:
    • Fat diet/li>
    • Physical inactivity
    • Consuming more than one alcoholic drink per day
    • Use of oral contraceptives

Cervical cancer

  • First intercourse at an early age
  • Multiple sex partners (of the woman or her partner)
  • Smoking
  • Race: most cases occur among women in black or Latin American race
  • Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth
  • HIV infection
  • Weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy or chronic steroid use

Colorectal Cancer

  • Age: more common in people over age 50
  • Personal or family history of colorectal cancer (especially the father, mother or brother)
  • Personal or family history of adenomatous polyps (especially parent or sibling)
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Fat diet (especially red meat)
  • Diet low in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Obesity

Endometrial cancer (also called cancer of the uterus)

  • Increasing age
  • Increased exposure to estrogen
  • Menstruation before age 12
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Hormonal treatment without use of progestogens
  • Never having been pregnant
  • History of infertility
  • Personal history of colon cancer, hereditary nonpolyposis
  • Obesity
  • Use of Tamoxifen

Lung cancer

  • Smoking
  • Personal or family history of lung cancer
  • Recurrent exposure to:
    • Radon or asbestos (especially in smokers)
    • Radiation
    • Arsenic
    • Air pollution
    • Smoke (passive exposure)
  • Lung diseases such as tuberculosis (TB)

Ovarian cancer

  • Age: more common in women over 50 years
  • Family history of ovarian cancer (mother, daughter, sister, grandmother or aunt)
  • Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
  • Northern European descent or Ashkenazi Jews
  • Never having been pregnant
  • Other suspected risk factors are:
    • Fertility inducing drugs
    • Exposure to talcum powder
    • Hormone replacement therapy
    • Obesity

Prostate cancer

  • Age: men 50 and older have a higher risk
  • Family history of prostate cancer (especially, parent, sibling or child)
  • Race: the incidence in black men is almost double that seen in Caucasians
  • Food rich in saturated fats and poor in fruits and vegetables

Skin cancer

  • Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays or tanning beds use
  • White skin
  • Family history, especially of melanoma
  • Living in southern neighboring countries or the so-called “sun belt” (in latitudes of ± 35 ° with respect to Ecuador)
  • Living in sunny weather
  • Occupational exposure to:
    • Coal tar
    • Pitch
    • Creosote
    • Arsenic
    • Radio