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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:

Smoking

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.

Obesity

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. 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.

Gender

Males are more likely than females to develop renal cancer.

Diet

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

Age

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.

References:

About kidney cancer. Kidney Cancer Association website. Available at: http://www.kidneycancer.org/knowledge/learn/about-kidney-cancer. Updated January 29, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013.

Kidney cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidneycancer/index. Accessed June 20, 2013.

Kidney cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/kidney. Accessed June 20, 2013.

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

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

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

Pischon, T, Lahmann, PH, 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



Last reviewed June 2013 by Mohei Abouzied, MD;Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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