Risk Factors

Although risk factors may influence the development of a brain tumor, most do not directly cause a brain tumor. Some people with several risk factors never develop a brain tumor, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed decisions. But, at this time, there are no known ways to prevent a brain tumor through lifestyle changes.

Most of the time, the cause of a brain tumor is unknown, but the following factors may raise a person’s risk of developing a brain tumor:

  • Age: Brain tumours are more common in children and older adults, though people of any age can develop one.
  • Gender: Generally, brain tumours seem to occur more frequently in men than in women. However, some specific types of brain tumours are more common in women.
  • Chemical exposure: Exposure to solvents, pesticides, oil products, or rubber can potentially increase the risk of developing a brain tumor.
  • Family history: About 5% of brain tumors may be linked to hereditary genetic conditions, such as neurofibromatosis and VHL syndrome. Scientists have also found a pattern of brain tumours within some families without a link to these known conditions. Studies are underway to try to find a cause for this.
  • Exposure to infections and allergens: Infection with the EpsteinBarr virus, which causes mononucleosis, increases the risk of brain cancer. Several types of other viruses have been shown to cause brain tumours in animals, but more data is needed to examine the risk in humans. Of note, some studies have shown that patients with a history of allergies or skin conditions have a lower risk of glioma.
  • Exposure to radiation: Previous treatment to the brain or head with ionizing radiation, such as Xrays, has been shown to be a risk factor for a brain tumour.
  • Seizures: A history of seizures has been linked with brain cancer, but because a brain tumour can cause seizures, the direction of this relationship is not known. There may also be a risk posed by anti-seizure medication.


Information taken from Cancer.net