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Risk Factors for Brain Tumors

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Risk Factors for Brain Tumors

A risk factor is something that raises the chances of getting a health problem. A person can get brain tumors with or without the risks listed below. The chances of getting brain tumors are greater in people who have many.

Brain tumors are more common in older adults. The risk of some tumors also changes with the tumor type. Meningioma is the most common type found in adults. It is also more common in women and Black people.

Other things that can raise the risk of a brain tumor are:

  • Radiation exposure to the nervous system from:
  • Working in oil refining or rubber manufacturing
  • Having a rare inherited disease such as:
  • Cancer from other sites in the body can spread to the brain and the fluid surrounding the nervous system— Lung cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma are the ones that are most likely to do this
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister who had or has a brain tumor raises the risk of some types of brain tumors


  • Adult central nervous system tumors treatment (PDQ®)–health professional version. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/brain/hp/adult-brain-treatment-pdq. Accessed July 13, 2021.
  • Astrocytoma and oligodentroglioma in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/astrocytoma-and-oligodendroglioma-in-adults. Accessed July 13, 2021.
  • Lukas RV, Wainwright DA, et al. Newly diagnosed glioblastoma: a review on clinical management. Oncology. 2019;33(3):91-100.
  • Meningioma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/meningioma. Accessed July 13, 2021.
  • Risk factors for brain and spinal cord tumors. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-adults/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html. Accessed July 13, 2021.


  • Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.