Typically, it is not possible to know exactly why one person develops cancer and another does not. Research has shown that certain risk factors may increase a person’s chances of developing cancer. Alternatively, there are also factors that are linked to a lower risk of cancer. These are sometimes called protective risk factors, or simply protective factors.
Cancer risk factors include exposure to chemicals or other substances, as well as certain behaviors. They also include things people cannot control, like age and family history. A family history of certain cancers can be a sign of a possible inherited cancer syndrome.
Identifying Cancer Risk Factors and Protective Factors
Most cancer risk (and protective) factors are initially identified in epidemiology studies. In these studies, scientists look at large groups of people and compare those who develop cancer with those who don’t. These studies may show that people who develop cancer are more or less likely to behave in certain ways or to be exposed to certain substances than those who do not develop cancer.
Such studies, on their own, cannot prove that a behavior or substance causes cancer. For example, the finding could be a result of chance, or the true risk factor could be something other than the suspected risk factor. But findings of this type sometimes get attention in the media, and this can lead to wrong ideas about how cancer starts and spreads.
When many studies all point to a similar association between a potential risk factor and an increased risk of cancer, and when a possible mechanism exists that could explain how the risk factor could cause cancer, scientists can be more confident about the relationship between the two.
15 Alternative Risk Factors When Defending Cancer-Causing Cases
The list below includes the most-studied known or suspected risk factors for cancer. Although some of these risk factors can be avoided, others—such as growing older—cannot. Limiting exposure to avoidable risk factors may lower the risk of developing certain cancers.
- Cancer-Causing Substances
- Chronic Inflammation
- Environmental Factors (e.g., pollution)
- Infectious Agents
- Medications (e.g., hormone therapy)
Medical Record Review for Product Liability Cases
Product liability lawyers, and the companies they defend, depend on LMI’s medical record review services to understand medical records, identify potential missing information, and possible alternative causation factors. During medical record review and analysis, Plaintiff careers, hobbies, recreational activities, travel, etc. are explored to determine potential exposures. Leveraging a precise medical chronology, drafted by trained medical analysts, can be used to prepare lawyers to address areas of alternative causation during depositions and strengthen arguments in trials or in settlement discussions.