Brain Tumors Risk Factors

Brain tumor statistics reveal that brain tumors occur in people of all ages and races, but certain factors have been identified that increase tumor risks. However, nothing is set in stone. People who are at high risk may never develop a brain tumor, and those who seem to be at zero risk may develop one.

Tumor History and Other Risk Factors

Several factors are associated with an increased risk of developing brain tumors, including:

  • Age: Brain tumors can occur at any age, but increase in frequency as age increases. Most brain tumors occur at 45 years or older; the median age for diagnosis is 55 years. The majority of brain tumors, however, are found in people 70 or older. On the other hand, children younger than eight years old are more likely to develop a brain tumor than older children.
  • Chemical exposure: Some jobs suggest a higher probability of developing brain tumors than others, such as agricultural, electrical, health care and oil refinery occupations. Chemicals that may lead to brain tumors are acrylonitrile (used to make textiles and plastics), formaldehyde (used by embalmers and pathologists) and vinyl chloride (used to make plastics). People who work in or live near factories making vinyl chloride have an increased chance of getting brain cancer.
  • Exposure to ionizing or nuclear radiation: Radiation therapy for cancer or nuclear radiation exposure can increase brain tumor risk.
  • Family history: A genetic anomaly will rarely be responsible for causing a brain tumor. People that have a family member with a brain tumor history have an increased risk of cancer, however. Having more than one brain tumor in one family is very rare.
  • Race: Caucasians are usually more likely to develop brain tumors than people of other races.
  • Sex: Males have a higher probability of getting a brain tumor than females. Meningiomas, though, are more common in females.

Other Risk Factors

Several additional risk factors are being debated in the medical community. Some people believe that cell phone usage increases the risk of getting brain cancer, though this has not yet been proven.

Others believe that people who have suffered head injuries have a higher probability of developing a brain tumor. This is difficult to prove because it’s hard to ascertain whether or not the brain tumor was present before the injury. The brain injury may simply aggravate the existing area that was predisposed to developing a brain tumor.

Resources

HealthCommunities.com Staff. (2010). Brain cancer. Retrieved April 30, 2010, from the HealthCommunities.com website: http://www.oncologychannel.com/braincancer/causes.shtml.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research Staff. (2008). Brain tumor. Retrieved April 30, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/brain-tumor/DS00281/DSECTION=risk-factors.

MedicineNet Staff. (n.d.). Brain tumor. Retrieved April 30, 2010, from the MedicineNet.com website: http://www.medicinenet.com/brain_tumor/page4.htm.