Authors: Emily Hargrave, Future Science Group
Despite the almost 700,000 individuals in the USA living with brain tumors, the risk factors are still not fully known or understood.
“We don’t know who, we don’t know when, and we don’t know why people develop brain tumors,” explained Elizabeth M Wilson, President and CEO of the American Brain Tumor Association. “It’s frustrating for the brain tumor community, and it’s why the American Brain Tumor Association funds research to pursue answers to these questions, and it’s why we host this national conference to provide answers families desperately seek.”
A range of environmental and genetic factors have been investigated, but there is no single risk factor that is a common thread to a large number of brain tumors. “Unlike the strong correlation between smoking and lung cancer, we just haven’t found a specific risk factor like that for brain tumors,” commented Jill Barnholtz-Sloan of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (OH, USA). “We have determined that ionizing radiation to the head is a risk factor when received in therapeutic doses, but even in those cases, the risk of developing a brain tumor is low.”
Associations between mobile phones and brain tumors have been suggested, however no evidence supports this argument, and with the increasing use of mobile phones in society, an increase in the prevalence of brain tumors would have been reported, and it has not been. Additionally, power lines, cigarette smoking, most forms of diagnostic ionizing radiation, head trauma, exposure to air pollutants, and alcohol consumption have all been suggested as environmental risk factors, but none have been proven, and researchers continue to explore the possibilities of what may be the cause of brain tumors.