Cancer Risk Factors

Key points

  • A risk factor is something that increases the chance of developing a disease.
  • Some examples of risk factors for cancer are alcohol, family health history, human papillomavirus (HPV), obesity, and tobacco.
a man and a woman

Risk factors

Alcohol and cancer

Young woman serving water infused with fruit for friends at a party
Drinks without alcohol, like water infused with fruit, can be a healthy alternative to alcohol.

Drinking alcohol raises your risk of getting six kinds of cancer. All alcoholic drinks are linked with cancer.

Family health history and cancer

a large family
Learn your family's history of cancer and share it with your doctor.

Tell your doctor about your family health history to find out if you may have a higher cancer risk.

HPV and cancer

a doctor giving an HPV vaccine to a boy while his mother looks on
The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes almost all cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer.

Obesity and cancer

a person stepping onto a scale
Thirteen cancers are associated with overweight and obesity.

Being overweight or having obesity are linked with a higher risk of getting 13 types of cancer.

Tobacco and cancer

a woman with a portable oxygen tank
Tobacco is linked with cancer.

Tobacco use can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body. Quitting can lower your risk.