risk factors

Risk Factors Demystified: Decoding Risks in the Contemporary World

Risk is all around us, if somebody is driving crazily on the road, we are at risk of road traffic accidents, A nearby sneeze may raise our risk of catching the cold.

YouTube video discusses risk factors

Obesity boosts the odds you’ll get diabetes. Smoking increases your risk for many cancers. If you pay attention to news headlines, you may worry that you’re at risk for food poisoning, Zika infection, dog attacks, and more. How can you know which health risks apply to you?

news headlines showing outbreaks
News headlines showing outbreaks

When we develop a disease it may be because of several factors our age, our gender, our occupation, where we live blah blah blah.. also known as determinants of the disease. But suppose we want to assess how much these factors are causally associated with the disease, then we measure risk.

What is the risk?

To prevent the health problem before it happens, you need to know the risk factors that can predict the problems.

If the father is asking his son to buy packets of gutkha, then the kid will likely start using it early.

children using tobacco products in Mumbai
Children Using Tobacco Products in Mumbai

Risk A risk factor is a characteristic, condition, or behavior that increases the likelihood of getting a disease or injury.

Risk factors definition
Risk factors definition

Risk Factors Classification

Risk factors categories
Risk factors categories

Common Risk Factors

Let us now try to explore common risk Factors for many non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes heart diseases, etc. known as lifestyle diseases.

Did you know that a person’s age, lifestyle, environment, genetic makeup, and family history can increase the likelihood of developing lifestyle diseases?

Over 61 percent of all deaths in India are attributed to lifestyle or non-communicable diseases.


More than 1.73 million new cancer cases are likely to be recorded each year by 2020; air pollution, tobacco, alcohol, and diet changes are primary triggers.

cancer burden India
cancer burden India

For example, advancing age is the most important risk factor for cancer.

The median age at diagnosis for all cancers combined is 66 years, The incidence rates in India begin to rise in the early thirties and peak at ages 50–64 years.

Age and occurrence of cancers
Age and occurrence of cancers

Obesity & Overweight

Every 12th Indian a diabetic — India ranks second in the list of countries with the highest number of diabetes patients.

Diabetes among Indians
Diabetes among Indians

The majority of risk factors are related to a person’s lifestyle or overall health.

Obesity kills more than smoking

About 8 out of 10 people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and getting regular physical activity may prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.


Losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight may lower your risk factors for developing heart disease by improving blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood flow.

Obesity also increases the risk of breast, colorectal, and other types of cancer.

Smoking (Tobacco Products)

Some substances known as Carcinogens can damage our DNA and cause cancer.

One of the most common examples is tobacco, a proven cause of cancer.

A person can be exposed to tobacco by smoking or chewing tobacco.

And possibly by inhaling tobacco smoke from someone smoking nearby known as passive smoking or second-hand smoke.

A major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), tobacco use causes the death of over 8 million people per year around the world.

Chain smoker
Chain smoker

In India, tobacco-related cancers accounted for 27% of the country’s cancer burden in 2020, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Tobacco is most notoriously associated with lung cancer, but it also leads to DM, Heart disease, stroke, and many other cancers.


Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and liver disease.

Alcohol also causes cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver,

colon, and breast.

The more a person drinks, the more likely they are to develop cancer.

The risk is even higher for those who drink alcohol and also use tobacco.

When combined, alcohol and tobacco use increases the health risk by many folds.

Environmental Toxins

Around 20 percent of cancer cases are due to toxins in our environment.

Individuals may be unknowingly exposed to those agents if they

work in certain mining, agricultural, manufacturing, welding, printing, or painting industries in which they are exposed to substances such as arsenic, asbestos, VOCs, etc.

Exposure to these substances may lead to heart disease, lung disease, and

lung and bladder cancers and leukemia.

Genetics/Family History

Your chance of having Heart disease is high if your first-degree relatives have had Heart disease in the past. The same is also true for stroke.

Genetic predisposition is an important non-modifiable risk factor!

It’s important to be aware of it

Even if we can’t prevent it.

In breast and ovarian cancers, certain mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are well-known risk factors.

Risk Factors among Children

Not only adults, risk factors play an important role in Childhood behavior problems.

Children having a lack of commitment to school, and high conflict in the family may lead to…

School risk factors
School risk factors


Can genetics influence my risk of chronic diseases?

Yes, genetics can contribute to the risk of chronic diseases. However, genetic predispositions do not guarantee disease development; lifestyle choices and environmental factors also play crucial roles.

How can I reduce environmental health risks?

Reducing environmental health risks involves minimizing exposure to pollutants, advocating for clean air and water policies, and supporting sustainability initiatives.

What role does mental health play in overall well-being?

Mental health significantly impacts overall well-being. Prioritizing mental health through practices like mindfulness, therapy, and stress management can positively influence physical health outcomes.

How can personalized medicine benefit patients?

Personalized medicine tailors treatments to individual patient characteristics, increasing treatment effectiveness and reducing adverse effects. Genetic testing and medical advancements enable personalized approaches to healthcare.

Is preventive healthcare only for those with existing health conditions?

Preventive healthcare benefits everyone, regardless of existing health conditions. Regular check-ups, screenings, and healthy lifestyle choices contribute to early detection and risk reduction.

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