• Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer

    A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition. It is possible to develop kidney cancer with or without the risk factors listed below. Most people with these risk factors never develop kidney cancer. However, in general, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing a disease. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk.
    Risk factors for kidney cancer include the following:


    Substances in cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products have been shown to cause kidney cancer. The body absorbs the cancer-causing chemicals into the bloodstream. When the kidneys filter the blood, they are exposed to high concentrations of these chemicals, which can lead to cancer. Your chance of developing kidney cancer is increased 40% if you smoke cigarettes.


    Being overweight can increase the risk of kidney cancer. Obesity may alter hormone levels associated with kidney cancer.

    Genetic Factors

    A tendency to develop certain types of renal cell cancer may be inherited (that is, may run in families). These include kidney cancer associated with Von Hippel-Lindau disease , a hereditary disorder in which people are prone to renal cell carcinoma and a number of other types of tumors.


    Males are more likely than females to develop renal cancer. This may be related to men historically being more likely to have occupational exposure to toxins and to smoke.


    Meat that is cooked to "well done" may possibly increase the risk of kidney cancer. The reason for this is unknown.


    Kidney cancer occurs more frequently after age 50.

    Environmental Toxins

    Exposure to asbestos, organic solvents, and the metal cadmium may increase your risk of kidney cancer.

    Medical Conditions

    There are medical conditions that may increase your risk. One example is high blood pressure . Doctors are not sure if it is high blood pressure or some of the drugs used to treat the condition that increases the risk.


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    Cashen A, Wildes T. The Washington Manual subspecialty consult series; Hematology and Oncology Subspeciality Consult . Second edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.

    Kidney Cancer Association website. Available at: http://www.kidneycancerassociation.org/ .

    Maclure M. Asbestos and renal cell carcinoma: a case-control study. Environ Res. 1987;42:353.

    Mandel JS, McLauglin JK, Schlegofer B, et al. International renal cell cancer study. IV. Occupation. Int J Cancer. 1995;61:601.

    McLauglin JK, Blot WJ, Mehl ES, et al. Petroleum-related employment and renal cell cancer. J Occup Med. 1985;27:672

    National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/ .

    Pischon, T, Lahmann, PH, Boeing, H, et al. Body size and risk of renal cell carcinoma in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Int J Cancer. 2006;118:728

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