In addition, people with a family history of cancer might want to discuss with their physician whether they should see a genetic counselor to assess their cancer risk, Gaudet said.
This emphasis on genetics, however, should not discourage people with a family history of cancer, both Kraus and Gaudet said.
"We can't control where we get our genes, but what you can control is your risk factors," Kraus said, noting that healthy diet, an active lifestyle and avoiding drinking or smoking can play just as important a role as genetics in determining a person's cancer risk.
Although the study found a link between higher risk for different types of cancer in people whose close family members had cancer, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
To learn more about genetics and cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.