What increases my risk of brain tumours?

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There are certain things called risk factors that can increase your chance of getting a brain tumour. These include:

  • AgePrimary brain tumours can occur at any age but they are more common in people between the ages of 50 and 70. Certain types of brain tumour are more common in young adults and children.
  • Gender: Men are more likely than women to develop most types of brain tumours.
  • Genetic conditionsThere are certain rare genetic conditions that have been linked to an increased risk of brain tumours. These include neurofibromatosis type 1 and type 2, tuberous sclerosis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, Turcot syndrome and Gorlin syndrome. If you have these conditions it does not mean you will develop a brain tumour. But you have a slightly higher risk than someone without these conditions. However, if anyone in your family is worried about having a genetic risk linked to brain tumours, they should discuss it with their doctor.
  • Exposure to radiation: Children, teenagers or young adults who have been exposed to radiotherapy in the past have an increased risk of developing a tumour at the treatment site.
  • Weakened immune system: If your immune system is weak as a result of a HIV infection or long-term treatment with immunosuppressants, you may be at greater risk of developing a rare type of tumour called primary (cerebral) lymphoma.

Unproven causes

Many people are concerned that mobile phones, power lines and some viruses can cause brain tumours. Research has found that there is no clear link between these and brain tumours.

There is also no evidence to show that hurting your head in an accident can cause a brain tumour.

Remember, having a risk factor does not mean you will get a brain tumour.

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