Am I at risk for getting brain tumor?
The cause of the tumor is not obvious in most people with primary brain tumors. But doctors have identified other factors that could increase the risk of brain tumor. These include:
- Age: Brain tumors are more common in children and older adults but a brain tumor may develop in people of any age.
- Gender: Men are more likely to develop a brain tumor than females. However, some particular forms of brain tumors are more common in women, such as meningioma.
- Home and work exposures: The risk of developing a brain tumor may be increased by exposure to pesticides, solvents, rubber, oil products, or vinyl chloride. There is, however, no scientific evidence to support this potential connection yet.
- Family history: Approximately 5% of brain tumors may be associated with genetic inherited causes or disorders, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome, neurofibromatosis, basal cell carcinoma syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Turcot syndrome, and von Hippel-Lindau. Scientists have also identified “clusters” of brain tumors with no connection to these recognized genetic conditions within some families.
- Exposure to infections, viruses, and allergens: Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) increases the risk of CNS lymphoma. EBV is more commonly known as the virus that causes mononucleosis or “mono.” In other research, high levels of a common virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV) have been found in brain tumor tissue. The meaning of this finding is being researched. Several types of other viruses have been shown to cause brain tumors in research on animals. More data are needed to find out if exposure to infections, other viruses, or allergens increase the risk of a brain tumor in people. Of note, studies have shown that patients with a history of allergies or skin conditions have a lower risk of glioma.
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection raises the risk of developing CNS lymphoma. EBV is more generally referred to as the virus that causes mononucleosis. In few studies, High levels of a specific virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV) were identified in brain tumor tissue.
- Electromagnetic fields: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to limit the use of cell phones and promotes the use of a hands-free headset for both adults and children to avoid increased risk of brain tumor.
- Race and ethnicity: White people are more likely than black people to develop gliomas but less likely to develop meningioma. Individuals in northern Europe are also more than twice as likely as those in Japan to develop a brain tumor.
- Ionizing radiation: Previous treatment with ionizing radiation to the brain or head, including x-rays, was found to be a risk factor for a brain tumor.
- Head injury and seizures: Severe head trauma has been researched for a long time for its link to brain tumors. Some studies have shown a link between meningioma and head trauma, but not between head trauma and glioma. A history of seizures has also been related to brain tumors, but since a brain tumor can cause seizures, it is not clear if seizures increase the risk of brain tumors, if seizures occur as a result of the tumor, or if anti-seizure medications increase the risk.
- N-nitroso compounds: Some dietary and vitamin supplementation tend to suggest that dietary N-nitroso compounds may increase the risk of tumors in both the childhood and adult brain. N-nitroso dietary compounds are produced in the body from nitrites or nitrates found in certain cured meats, smoke from cigarette, and cosmetics.