Module 3: Protective & Risk Factors
Some chronic diseases can be prevented. Others cannot be prevented, but we can reduce their impact. In this part of the course we will look at protective factors and risk factors. Protective factors keep us healthy and risk factors increase the chance of getting a disease.
What is a protective factor?
A protective factor is a trait or habit that “protects” people and makes them less likely to get a chronic disease. Protective factors can include:
- Healthy eating
- Managing weight, blood pressure and cholesterol
- Mental health: feeling happy, emotional support and social connections
What is a risk factor?
A risk factor is a trait or habit that makes it more likely to have a disease. People who smoke, for example, are more likely to get lung cancer, so smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer. Older people are more likely to get diabetes, so age is a risk factor for diabetes.
Each risk factor can be linked to more than one chronic disease. Smoking, for example can lead to heart disease, cancer or lung disease.