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A brain tumour is a growth or a mass of abnormal cells in your brain or close to your brain. It can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). It is categorized into two types namely, primary and secondary tumours. The primary tumour originates in your brain, and the secondary tumour occurs when the cancer cells from another organ such as breast or lungs spread to your brain.
Tumours usually occur due to mutations in the cell DNA. Consequently, the cells grow, divide rapidly, and produce an abnormal mass called the tumour. However, we do not know the exact cause for these mutations. Doctors have identified certain risk factors for a brain tumour. They include:
People of any age can have a chance to develop a brain tumour, but it is more common in children and older adults. The risk also increases with advancing age.
In general, men are more prone to develop cancer compared to women. But some specific cancers like meningioma is common in women.
Only about 5 to 10 % of cancers are genetically inherited. If any of your family members have rare syndromes like Li-Fraumeni syndrome or Turcot syndrome, then you may be at a higher risk of getting a brain tumour.
Exposure to radiations in the form of CT scans or X-rays of the head may be one of the causes of tumours.
If you have undergone radiation therapy in the past for cancers such as leukaemia, then you are at risk of developing a brain tumour. Mainly, if you have had radiotherapy for the head during childhood, then you have a slightly higher chance of developing brain cancer.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields such as the energy from cell phones or power lines also increases the risk of a brain tumour. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) promoted the use of hands-free headsets.
When you get exposed to certain environmental chemicals from automobile exhaust or chemical plants, you are increasing your risk of developing brain cancer.
Smoking and alcohol consumption may not cause a brain tumour. However, they can worsen existing cancers. Therefore, you should try to limit or completely avoid them.
When you have an infection such as HIV or AIDS, then your risk of developing a brain tumour is nearly doubled. Other viruses which can increase your risk are cytomegalovirus and the Ebstein-Barr virus.
A brain tumour may also be caused by severe head trauma. A history of seizures can also increase the risk of brain tumour.
N-nitroso compounds increase the risk of a person developing a brain tumour. It is richly found in cured meats and cosmetics. Therefore, it is better to avoid such foods and cosmetics.
Being overweight is also one of the risk factors for a brain tumour. If you have a greater body mass index (BMI), then you are at a higher risk of developing a brain tumour. Therefore, start doing regular physical activities to maintain a normal weight.
A lot of research is still being conducted to find out the possible causes of brain tumours. Although brain tumour is not always linked with these causes, they may increase the risk of developing a tumour. Be alert and cautious about the causes and risk factors of a brain tumour. If you are suffering from a headache for a long period, then do not neglect to talk to your doctor. Early detection and treatment can increase your life span.