Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic

Risk Factors for Disease

  • Connie H. Carr
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_663

A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease. The factors can be environmental, behavioral, or biologic in nature. If these factors are present, it increases the probability of a disease occurring. In research terminology, risk factors are exposures that are statistically related in some way to an outcome. Biologic risk factors are hereditary and genetic features such as age, race, or gender. These factors cannot be altered. Behavioral risk factors include smoking, overeating, and lack of exercise, among others. These factors can be modified to some extent to prevent a disease from occurring.

Environmental risk factors include air and water pollution and poor sanitation. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that many diseases could be prevented through better management of the environment. Studies by WHO have examined the impact of environmental risks on diseases and injuries. It has been estimated that one quarter of the world’s diseases and...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Suggested Readings

  1. Winkleby, M., Jatulis, D., Frank, E., & Fortmann, S. (1992). Socioeconomic status and health: How education, income, and occupation contribute to risk factors for cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Public Health, 82(6), 816–820.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar

Suggested Resources

  1. Burt, B. (2001). Definitions of risk. Journal of Dental Health, 65(10), 1007–1008. Retrieved February 5, 2011, from http://www.jdentaled.org/cgi/reprint/65/10/1007.pdf
  2. Carballo, M., & Nerukar, A. (2001). Migration, refugees, and health risks. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 7(3), 556–560. Retrieved February 5, 2011, from http://mighealth.net/eu/images/8/85/Carb.pdf
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Retrieved February 5, 2011, from http://www.cdc.gov/healthycommunitiesprogram/overview/diseasesandrisks.htm
  4. Lopez, A., Mathers, C., Ezzati, M., Jamison, D., & Murray, C. (Eds.). (2006). Global burden of disease and risk factors. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved February 5, 2011, from http://files.dcp2.org/pdf/GBD/GBD.pdf
  5. Pruss-Ustun, A., & Corvalan, C. (2006). Preventing disease through healthy environments. Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved February 5, 2011, from http://www.who.int/quantifying_ehimpacts/publications/preventingdisease.pdf
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2004). The burden of chronic diseases and their risk factors. Retrieved February 5, 2011, from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/burdenbook2004/pdf/burden_book2004.pdf

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Connie H. Carr
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for ResearchThe Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego HospiceSan DiegoUSA