• Risk Factors of Brain Tumour

Risk Factors of Brain Tumour

A brain tumour is the growth of cancerous cells near or in the brain. Brain tumours are primary when they start in the brain or nearby tissues. Or it can be secondary when it spreads to the brain from some other site. While most people have primary brain tumours, the cause is unclear; a few factors can be associated with increased risk. Risk factors are defined as variables that can increase the chance of a person getting a brain tumour.

Overview of Brain Tumour Risk Factor

In most cases, the cause or reason for a brain tumour is unknown, but below are a few brain cancer risk factors that can increase the chances of a brain tumour.

Home And Work Exposures

There are cases when excessive exposure to pesticides, solvents, rubber, oil products, or vinyl chloride can increase the brain tumour risk. Though no scientific evidence confirms or proves the link, it is a commonly accepted risk factor by healthcare professionals. People often use these harmful chemicals and solutions at home for various purposes. Moreover, people working in the industrial sector, farming industry, or similar industries are regularly exposed to such solutions that can be harmful and have significant brain tumour risk.

Family History

At least 5% of all brain tumour cases are linked to hereditary or genetic factors. These factors include:

  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Turcot syndrome
  • Tuberous sclerosis
  • Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
  • Gorlin syndrome
  • Turner syndrome

Moreover, scientists have also found evidence of clusters of brain tumours in families with no link to these conditions. It is believed that if any of your ancestors or family members had a brain tumour, the chances or risk of you getting a brain tumour are also higher. Your risk of obtaining it is higher than the general population if your close relatives have had brain tumours. Parents, children, or siblings are considered close relatives.

Exposure To Viruses, Infections, And Allergens

A common risk factor for brain tumours is exposure to infections, allergens, or viruses. For example, several studies show that infections with EBV or Epstein-Barr virus can increase the chances of a brain tumour. EBV is a common virus that is known for causing mono or mononucleosis. Furthermore, other studies show that cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is another common virus in brain tumour tissues. Many viruses can cause brain tumours, as found through animal research. While more data will be needed to find the exact exposure and effect, it is evident that these allergens, infections, and viruses have some impact on the development of brain tumours.

Different studies also prove that patients with a history of skin conditions or allergies are more prone to glioma.

Electromagnetic Fields

Excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields is a potential risk factor associated with brain tumours. While it is constantly subjected to debate, there is conflicting information about electromagnetic fields resulting in brain tumours.

People who live close to high-voltage power lines or who use cell phones or other wireless devices are more prone to brain tumours. In addition, several studies show a link between gliomas and excessive use of cell phones. But it is critical to note that cell phones have only been available for a few years, and thus finding concrete evidence to prove the exact effect will take time. Nevertheless, even the WHO recommends minimising cell phone usage and using hands-free devices as much as possible.

Furthermore, electromagnetic fields do not only work alone but also work in conjunction with different other harmful exposures to increase the risk.

Ionising Radiation

Ionising or medical radiation is a type of radiation that is used by different medical scans. These scans include CT scans or x-rays. Such medical scans are critical in diagnosing various illnesses and diseases, including cancer.

According to a new study, 1 out of every 100 brain tumour cases is due to ionising radiation. These cases primarily occur with people who have already gone through radiation therapy treatments rather than from medical scans like CT scans or x-rays. Therefore, getting a brain tumour or, in general, the radiation risk from these scans are extremely low. The doctors will also minimise your radiation exposure as much as possible and only do these scans when necessary.

Head Injury or Seizures

Any serious injury or head trauma can also increase the brain tumour risk. Multiple studies show the relationship between meningioma and trauma. Furthermore, a history of seizures is also linked with a brain tumour, as brain tumours can also result in seizures. Though no concrete evidence exists that seizures result in brain tumours, seizures are believed to occur because of a brain tumour and are linked.

N-Nitroso Compounds

Many studies on vitamin supplements and diets highlight that consuming dietary N-Nitroso compounds can increase the risk of both adult and childhood brain tumours. These nutritional compounds are generally formed in the body from nitrates or nitrites present in various cured meats, cosmetics, or cigarettes. However, these links need to be further established with additional research.


Older adults and children are more prone to brain tumours. Though people of any age can get a brain tumour, these age groups are more prone to developing cancer.


As per the trends, men are more likely to have brain tumours than women. But it is only limited to some specific types of tumours. For example, meningioma is more common in women as compared to men.

Conclusion Of Risk Factors of Brain Tumour

While most of these risk factors can increase the chances of a brain tumour, they do not directly cause it. There are many instances where people regularly exposed to these risk factors do not get a brain tumour. And there are cases where people without a risk factor get a brain tumour. Getting more information about various risk factors can be highly beneficial.

You should discuss the details of brain tumour risk factors with your healthcare professional to make an informed decision. Remember that there is no way to protect or prevent a brain tumour, but the chances can be reduced by avoiding these risk factors.