While we may never know precisely why one person develops cancer and another does not, research has clearly shown that certain risk factors can increase your chances of developing the disease.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Risk factors include things we can control, such as diet and exercise, as well as things we can’t control, such as genetics or age. So it makes sense to know the risk factors that you can control — and then avoid or eliminate them entirely to lower your risk of developing certain cancers.
Here is our collection of Health Essentials posts to help you know more about your risk of developing breast, bladder, colon or skin cancers:
“I look just like my mother and grandmother, and they both had breast cancer. So I’ll have breast cancer, too.” Ever hear of this myth? It’s completely untrue. The genes that affect your physical traits aren’t the same ones that affect your breast cancer risk. That statement is just one myth among many in the world of breast cancer and genetics. Find out more myths — along with the facts you should know instead.
When it comes to breast cancer risk, you’ve probably heard about family history and genetics. But have you heard about breast density? If you haven’t paid attention to density in the past, it’s time to start. In one recent study, 47 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 74 had what we call “mammographically dense” breast tissue. Dense breast tissue can make tumors more difficult to spot in mammograms. And extremely dense tissue may be an independent risk factor for developing breast cancer.
If you’re at high risk for breast cancer and worry about the implications of eating that plate of tofu stir-fry, don’t put down your chopsticks just yet. Soy in its natural form does not rank high on the list of contributing factors for this disease. Other possible risk factors for breast cancer — obesity, smoking at an early age, a sedentary lifestyle, or saturated fat intake — are bigger concerns than consuming plant estrogens such as soy. But there is a type of soy that you should avoid.
With age come wisdom, experience and, unfortunately, a higher risk of bladder cancer. Certainly, bladder cancer can occur at any age, but it’s more common in older men and much less frequently an issue in younger men and women. Time gives you more chances to become exposed to harmful chemicals that get processed through your system. These chemicals collect in urine in the bladder before leaving the body. Find out the average age for developing bladder cancer.
Many people don’t realize that smoking tobacco is the single most important known risk factor for bladder cancer, according to the National Institutes for Health. The effects of cigarette smoke toxins entering your body have received a lot of attention, but far too little attention has been given to how those toxins make their way out. The carcinogens in cigarettes leave the body through the urinary tract.
What is your risk of having colorectal cancer? If you are approaching or have passed your 50th birthday, your doctor probably has advised you to have colorectal cancer screening to help determine your risk. And that’s the problem. This one-size-fits-all advice is standard because there has been no other reliable way of predicting a specific individual’s risk of developing this deadly disease. But now there is an online calculator to help physicians decide when patients truly need colorectal screenings.
Research has shown that what you eat can play a large role in your risk for developing colorectal cancer. Now, a new study shows that a diet of mostly fruits, vegetables and a moderate amount of fish appears to offer the most protection against developing colorectal cancer. The study found this pesco-vegetarian diet is associated with a 45 percent reduced risk forcolorectal cancers compared to people whose diets include meat.
One reason we all look forward to the balmier months is the ability to enjoy the sun once again. But, as we all know, the sun’s rays can be harmful. You don’t have become a hermit and hide from sunlight. But be smart about exposing your skin to the sun’s damaging rays. Here are steps you can take to reduce your risk of skin damage from the sun – and skin cancer.
Skin cancer is almost always curable when caught and treated early. So it’s critical to inspect your body and know the symptoms of skin cancer. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, and there are several risk factors that can make someone more likely to develop melanoma. Be sure to check your skin each month, especially if you had sunburns as a child.
Bladder cancer treatment guide
Breast cancer treatment guide
Colon cancer treatment guide
Skin cancer treatment guide