Cancer Risk Factors | Gleneagles Hospitals

Cancer Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease. When it comes to cancer, recognising cancer risk factors and taking steps to reduce your exposure to avoidable risk factors may lower your risk of developing certain cancers.

Some risk factors of cancer are unavoidable or unmodifiable such as the ageing process, family history or genetic susceptibility.

Some risk factors of cancer can be avoided and are modifiable such as certain lifestyle choices, i.e., diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, obesity, and exposure to certain chemicals in the environment.

These avoidable factors have been shown to increase risk of cancer.

Cigarette smoking and tobacco use

Cigarette smoking and tobacco use can cause cancer in almost all parts of the body. Smoke from tobacco products contains at least 70 cancer-causing chemicals which can damage DNA and cause cells to grow uncontrollably. These cells eventually develop into cancer.

The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk of cancer. Research has shown that smoking is an important modifiable risk factor for cancer.

Smoking and tobacco use causes up to 90% of lung cancer cases. It can also cause:

Research shows that quitting smoking reduces the risk of various types of cancer. The sooner you quit, the more you can reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases. Quitting smoking could give back almost 10 years of your life, compared to if you continued to smoke.

Take our Cancer Risk Quiz and find out what you can do to reduce your cancer risk.

Alcohol consumption

The more alcohol you consume, the higher your risk of cancer. Alcohol consumption is associated with 7 types of cancer including oesophageal, oral cavity, nasopharyngeal, liver, colorectal and breast cancer. Hence, alcohol consumption is an important risk factor for cancer which can be prevented.

Alcohol consumption can also lead to other long-term health problems such a liver failure or heart disease. Try cutting down your alcohol consumption, either by drinking in smaller amounts or having more drink-free days.

Take our Cancer Risk Quiz and find out what you can do to reduce your cancer risk.

Being overweight or obese

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many cancers because excess body weight increases inflammation in the body, promotes growth of cells and blood vessels, and affects levels of certain hormones which can promote cell growth.

Losing those excess body weight is a good start in reducing your cancer risk while providing many other health benefits. Maintaining a healthy weight by making healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of cancer.

Take our Cancer Risk Quiz and find out what you can do to reduce your cancer risk.

Sedentary lifestyle

Studies have shown that 25% of all cancer cases worldwide are due to sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity.

The recommended amount of physical activity per week is 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous physical activity, which can reduce cancer risk. It is always better to move more than less, so try to keep moving as much as possible!

Keeping active also helps to maintain a healthy weight which has many other health benefits as well.

Take our Cancer Risk Quiz and find out what you can do to reduce your cancer risk.

Sun exposure

Most skin cancers are caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight either from lifetime sun exposure or exposure to man-made sources of UV rays. These can cause DNA damage.

The main source of UV radiation is sunlight. There are 3 types of UV radiation:

  • UVA rays: These rays contain the least energy among UV rays. UVA rays are associated to long-term skin damage and ageing such as wrinkles but can have a role in some skin cancers through indirect DNA damage. UVA rays make up roughly 95% of the UV rays that reach the ground.
  • UVB rays: These rays contain slightly more energy than UVA rays. It can cause direct damage to the DNA in skin cells and can cause most skin cancers. UVB rays make up roughly 5% of UV rays that reach the ground.
  • UVC rays: These rays contain more energy than other types of UV rays. UVC rays from sunlight do not reach the ground so it is rarely a risk factor for cancer. However, UVC rays can also come from other sources such as mercury lamps or UV sanitising bulbs.

It is advisable to have sun protection habits such as avoiding UV rays at its strongest between 10 am to 4 pm, covering your skin with clothing when going out, wearing a hat, and using sunscreen regularly.

Take our Cancer Risk Quiz and find out what you can do to reduce your cancer risk.

Make an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

If you experience any signs and symptoms of cancer or would like to be screened for cancer, get in touch with us to find out more about our Oncology Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.

Gleneagles Hospital works with oncologists to assist patients through cancer treatment. The caring and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals are available for consultation and to provide the best care.

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