Understanding brain tumor risk factors

October 24th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

Did you know that October is National Brain Tumor Awareness Month?

Now is the perfect time to get a better understanding of the factors that can increase your risk of developing a brain tumor. While some cannot be controlled - such as age and family history - there are certain lifestyle choices that may increase your risk.  

Age
While people of all ages can develop brain tumors, the American Society of Clinical Oncology says they're most common in children and older adults. As you age, make it a priority to visit the doctor annually and report any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms, such as severe headaches, memory issues, sleeping problems and excessive fatigue.

Genetics and family history
According to Cancer Research UK, only a small portion of brain tumors are related to genetic conditions. However, your risk is increased if you have a parent, brother or sister who's been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Your chance is also higher if any of your family members live with the following medical problems:

  • Neurofibromatosis – type 1 and type 2
  • Tuberous sclerosis
  • Gorlin syndrome
  • Turcot syndrome
  • Turner syndrome
  • Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome

Without being intrusive, stay up-to-date with your family members' medical issues and overall well-being. This can help you understand your own health risk factors.

Medical Radiation
While X-rays and CT scans are very important for diagnosing illnesses, radiation exposure to the head increases your risk for developing a brain tumor. Meningiomas and cancerous gliomas are common brain tumors that develop in people who have had radiotherapy. X-rays and CT scans use much lower levels of radiation during treatment, so the risk is very small. However, because the chance is still there, doctors should keep exposure to radiation as low as possible for patients.

CT scans use much lower levels of radiation, but the exposure still increases your risk.CT scans use much lower levels of radiation, but the exposure still increases your risk.

Factors with uncertain risk
There are a number of factors that have been thought to increase brain tumor risk, but there is not enough evidence to claim their harm. Those include:

  • Exposure to aspartame.
  • Living near power lines.
  • Using cellphones.
  • Exposure to hair dye.
  • Smoking excessively or consuming alcohol.

With age, concern about brain tumors and your overall health is natural. By understanding common symptoms and risk factors, you can be proactive and confront your doctor about your worries. As always, visiting your GP annually can help you discover existing issues before they turn serious disease or illness.

Source: Sunrise Senior Living

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