Debra Wood, RN
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.
may alter hormone levels associated with kidney cancer.
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.
Exposure to asbestos, organic solvents, and the metal cadmium may increase your risk of kidney cancer.
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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Hematology and Oncology Subspeciality Consult. Second edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.
Kidney Cancer Association website. Available at:
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Mandel JS, McLauglin JK, Schlegofer B, et al. International renal cell cancer study. IV. Occupation.
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McLauglin JK, Blot WJ, Mehl ES, et al. Petroleum-related employment and renal cell cancer.
J Occup Med.
National Cancer Institute website. Available at:
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.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Mohei Abouzied, 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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