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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Risk factors for developing Cancer

Risk factors for developing Cancer

Certain factors which increase the chances of developing cancer are called risk factors. We often cannot explain why one person develops cancer and another does not. Many of these risk factors can be avoided. Others, such as family history, cannot be avoided. We can help protect ourselves by staying away from known risk factors whenever possible. Several factors may act together such as environmental factors cause normal cells to become cancerous.


Growing Older or Age: 

Most cancers occur in people over the age of 65. But people of all ages, including children, can get cancer


Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death. Using tobacco products or regularly being around tobacco smoke environmental and passive smoking increases the risk of cancer. They develop cancer of the lung, larynx, mouth, esophagus, bladder, kidney, throat, stomach, pancreas, blood, mouth or cervix.


  • Sunlight: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes from the sun, sunlamps, and tanning booths. It causes early aging of the skin and skin damage that can lead to skin cancer.
  • Ionizing Radiation: Ionizing radiation can cause cell damage that leads to cancer from outer space, radioactive fallout, radon gas, x-rays, and other sources and accidents at nuclear power plants or from the production, testing, or use of atomic weapons especially leukemia and cancers of the thyroid, breast, lung, and stomach.
  • Medical procedures are a common source of radiation: The risk from radiation therapy is slightly higher.

Chemical substances:

Certain Chemicals and Other Substances: People who have certain jobs (such as painters, construction workers, and those in the chemical industry) have an increased risk of cancer. Exposure to asbestos, benzene, Benzedrine, cadmium, nickel, or vinyl chloride in the workplace can cause cancer.

Organisms and Infections:

Viruses and Bacteria: Infection with


Certain Hormones: Estrogen or estrogen along with progestin can increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke, or blood clots

Family history:

  • Family History of Cancer: Most cancers develop because of changes (mutations) in genes.
  • It is uncommon for cancer to run in a family. However, certain types of cancer do occur more often in some families than in the rest of the population. For example, melanoma and cancers of the breast, ovary, prostate, and colon sometimes run in families.


Having more than two drinks each day for many years may increase the chance of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver, and breast.

Diet and activity:

  • Poor Diet, Lack of Physical Activity, or Being Overweight: People who have a poor diet, do not have enough physical activity, or are overweight may be at increased risk of several types of cancer. For example, have an increased risk of cancers of the colon, uterus, and prostate.
  • Lack of physical activity and being overweight are risk factors for cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, and uterus.