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Blog, Renal Cancer

Kidney Cancer-Risk Factors


Several research studies have shown a number of factors can predispose kidney cancer. Following are the kidney cancer risk factors:

kidney cancer risk factors

  • Tobacco/Cigarette Smoking: Smoking exposes the body to various carcinogens that increase the risk of kidney cancer by about 38%. This has been identified as one of the major risk factors for kidney cancer.
  • Obesity: Many studies have suggested that obesity increases the risk of kidney cancer, which has been postulated due to dysregulation of sex hormones, insulin metabolism, or the immune system in obese individuals.
  • Overuse of pain-killers and other medicines: Excessive use of analgesics like phenacetin, and certain diuretics has been reported to increase the risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Industrial/Occupational exposure: Chronic exposure to certain heavy metals like cadmium or other harmful chemicals like benzidine, pesticides, herbicides, asbestos, and trichloroethylene that are generally encountered in dry cleaning and metal industry, have been found to increase the risk of kidney cancer.
  • Kidney failure/Transplant/Dialysis: Individuals with a history of end-stage kidney disease, especially those who require repeated dialysis, are considered to be at a higher risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Family history: Risk of developing kidney cancer increases in individuals with a family history of kidney cancer in close relatives. The risk further increases with the increase in the number of relatives diagnosed.
  • Genetic Cancer Predisposition Syndromes: Some inherited cancer predisposition syndromes have been reported to be associated with a high incidence rate of kidney cancer. Following are some examples: von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (caused by mutations in the VHL gene); hereditary papillary RCC (caused by mutation in the MET gene); hereditary leiomyoma RCC (caused by mutation in the FH gene); Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome (BHD, caused by mutation in FLCN gene), tuberous sclerosis (caused by mutation in the TSC1 and TSC2 genes); and Cowden syndrome (caused by mutation in the PTEN gene).

Older age individuals, males, and African Americans or Alaska Natives are more likely to have kidney cancer.

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