Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer


About risk factors: Risk factors for Kidney Cancer are factors that do not seem to be a direct cause of the disease, but seem to be associated in some way. Having a risk factor for Kidney Cancer makes the chances of getting a condition higher but does not always lead to Kidney Cancer. Also, the absence of any risk factors or having a protective factor does not necessarily guard you against getting Kidney Cancer. For general information and a list of risk factors, see the risk center.

Risk factor list: The list of risk factors mentioned for Kidney Cancer in various sources includes:

Risk factors discussion: Cigarette smokers are also more likely than nonsmokers to develop several other types of cancer, including oral cancer and cancers of the larynx, esophagus, pancreas, bladder, kidney, and cervix. Smoking may also increase the likelihood of developing cancers of the stomach, liver, prostate, colon, and rectum. The risk of cancer begins to decrease soon after a smoker quits, and the risk continues to decline gradually each year after quitting.1

As with most other types of cancer, studies show that the risk of kidney cancer increases with age. It occurs most often between the ages of 50 and 70. It affects almost twice as many men as women. In addition, kidney cancer is somewhat more common among African American men than White men. Other risk factors for kidney cancer include:

  • Tobacco use: Research shows that smokers are twice as likely to develop kidney cancer as nonsmokers. In addition, the longer a person smokes, the higher the risk. However, the risk of kidney cancer decreases for those who quit smoking.

  • Obesity: Obesity may increase the risk of developing kidney cancer. In several studies, obesity has been associated with increased risk in women. One report suggests that being overweight may be a risk factor for men, too. The reasons for this possible link are not clear.

  • Occupational exposure: A number of studies have examined occupational exposures to see whether they increase workers' chances of developing kidney cancer. Studies suggest, for example, that coke oven workers in steel plants have above-average rates of kidney cancer. In addition, there is some evidence that asbestos in the workplace, which has been linked to cancers of the lung and mesothelium (a membrane that surrounds internal organs of the body), also increases the risk of some kidney cancers.

  • Radiation: Women who have been treated with radiation therapy for disorders of the uterus may have a slightly increased risk of developing kidney cancer. Also, people who were exposed to thorotrast (thorium dioxide), a radioactive substance used in the 1920s with certain diagnostic x-rays, have an increased rate of kidney cancer. However, this substance is no longer in use, and scientists think that radiation accounts for an extremely small percentage of the total number of kidney cancers.

  • Phenacetin: Some people have developed kidney cancer after heavy, long-term use of this drug. This painkilling drug is no longer sold in the United States.

  • Dialysis: Patients on long-term use of dialysis to treat chronic kidney failure have an increased risk of developing renal cysts and renal cancer. Further study is needed to learn more about the long-term effects of dialysis on patients with kidney failure.

  • Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease: Researchers have found that people who have this inherited disorder are at greater risk of developing renal cell carcinoma, as well as tumors in other organs. Researchers have found the gene responsible for VHL, and they believe that the isolation of this gene may lead to improved methods of diagnosis, treatment, and even prevention of some kidney cancers.


Risks factors for Kidney Cancer: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to risk factors for Kidney Cancer:

1. excerpt from What You Need To Know About Cancer - An Overview: NCI
2. excerpt from What You Need To Know About Kidney Cancer: NCI

Last revision: May 30, 2003

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