risk factors for cancer

Cancer risk factors are usually many and diverse. Growing older, chewing cigarettes, sunshine, ionizing radiation, a family history of cancer, alcohol, bacteria, and certain chemicals are among them (Cunha, n.d.). Aging is the most significant risk factor in the case of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (2015), “people aged 65 to 74 account for 25% of current cancer cases.” This can be explained by the fact that as we age, we are exposed to carcinogens for longer periods of time, which can result in mutations in genes involved in cell division control. Such mutations can result in the uncontrolled growth of normal cells thus resulting in the formation of tumors. Tobacco use is also associated with alteration of the cell cycle as evidenced by hyperplasia in the epithelium of the bronchi. Chemical irritants usually cause injury the mucosa of certain tracts in the body leading to the loss of surface cells and the subsequent proliferation of cells to replace the cells being lost consistently with prolonged exposure to the said irritants. The chronic proliferation of cells disrupts the cell cycle which could eventually lead to the development of malignancies. This mechanism of action is also true for physical agents such as radiation. Infectious agents such as viruses cause the death of infected cells which is then followed by cell proliferation which increases the risk of formation of malignancies in the body.

The cancers that I perceive to be most at risk are liver cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer. In the case of liver cancer and lung cancer, I can quit drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco respectively. This is because the two are major risk factors associated with the two cancers. In the case of prostate cancer, I am predisposed due to familial history. In such a case, chemoprevention is the most viable option. In addition, dietary changes to reduce the amount of fat in my diet could lower the risk.


Cunha, J.P. (N.d.). Cancer Risk Factors. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/cancer_causes/article.htm

National Cancer Institute (2015). Risk Factors for Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk

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