We do not fully understand what causes brain tumors. Though some of the causes and risk factors of this life threatening condition are known to us, it remains a largely enigmatic, deadly and difficult to treat disease.
Doctors and clinicians have long tried to understand what causes brain tumors but as yet are not able to find a satisfactory answer to what causes brain tumor in one person and not the other. In general the following are considered to be risk factors of brain cancer that increase a person’s chances of getting this type of cancer-
Genetics, gender, age and race
Certain types of brain tumors such as gliomas tend to run in families so if a person has close relatives who have this type of cancer, they are themselves more likely to develop it.
Some types of brain tumors are caused by the deletion or mutation of tumor suppressor genes so in this way as well, there could be a genetic basis for brain tumors.
Men are more prone to brain cancers than women overall however the risk of different types of tumors for each gender may differ. Caucasians are the race seen to have the highest chances of developing brain cancer.
Age is another determinant in what causes brain tumors. While this disease is most likely to occur in individuals over the age of 70, it can also occur among children. Brain tumors and blood cancer are the two most common types of juvenile cancer and kids younger than age 8 may be most likely to have this disease.
Cell phone use is frequently implicated as one of the causes of brain tumors; however as of now no definite cause or link has ever been proved. Similarly head injuries are also often thought of as being a risk factor for brain tumors, but the findings are similarly inconclusive here as well.
Work related exposure
Those who are exposed to radiation are known to be at increased risk of developing brain cancer. Those who work with nuclear devices, or have suffered accidental exposure to radiation are likely to develop brain cancer. More than a risk factor the radiation can actually cause the cancer.
Other factors may also shed light on what causes brain tumors – those who work with formaldehyde, such as embalmers, and pathologists or those who work with chemicals such as vinyl chloride and acrylonitrile may also be more at risk of developing tumors of the brain.
Certain diseases and conditions
There could be certain environmental factors that are responsible for brain tumors but these are not clearly identified. However there are certain conditions that are implicated in what causes brain tumors. The Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, a rare autosomal genetic condition that causes hemangioblastomas in parts of the brain, spinal cord, retina and kidney, is a known risk factor of brain tumors.
Multiple endocrine neoplasia, characterized by various tumors of the endocrine glands is also a known risk factor. Neurofibromatosis is a condition where the nerves grow certain tumors which could be benign but which may be dangerous in some cases. Type 2 Neurofibromatosis is also a known risk factor for brain tumors.