What is a Health Risk Factor?

What is a health risk factor? Or in other words, what does it mean when people say that someone is at risk or has a risk factor for developing a certain disease?

Health Risk Factor: A Brief Definition

For starters, a health risk factor is anything that changes the chance of a person of getting a particular type of disease. Different diseases have different risk factors. In addition, a person can have either one or more of the several risk factors for a particular disease.

Some examples of risk factors that are inherent or cannot be changed are age, the history of the family, and genetics. Risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and a diet high in calorie can be changed.

It is important to remember that having one or several risk factors does not automatically mean that a person having them would develop the corresponding disease. For example, there are people with a risk factor for lung, but they never develop this disease.

However, it is also worth mentioning that having one or no health risk factor does not mean that a person will not develop the corresponding disease. As an example, there are individuals who develop lung cancers despite having no history of smoking or substantial exposure to known lung carcinogens.