What is a risk factor for disease?

A risk factor is a biological trait or something in a person’s environment that increases the likelihood of developing a specific disease.
As a general rule, diseases develop under the influence of a combination of risk factors, the number of which is on the rise. In the 1960s, there were about 1,000 known risk factors, compared to approximately 3,000 nowadays.

Types of risk factors:
– external (e.g., environment, economic situation, profession)
– characteristics of the human body (e.g., elevated blood cholesterol, arterial hypertension, hereditary predisposition)
– lifestyle (smoking, diet, exercise)

Disease risk is the sum of all risk factors, which is why Atlas users are invited to fill in the Health and Lifestyle Survey to get the most accurate assessment of their individual risk.