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Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer

With most cancers there is no direct cause and kidney cancer is no exception. For many people the cause of the cancer is never found. However, certain lifestyle factors can increase the risk of developing the disease;

  • The risk of developing kidney cancer is highest in people aged 45-75, and tails off in the late seventies.
  • An unhealthy diet and being overweight (obesity) increases the risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Smoking may double the risk of developing kidney cancer for some people. The longer a person smokes and the more cigarettes they smoke, the greater the risk.
  • Genetic factors, such as a mutation in the von Hippel-Lindau gene, Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome, tuberous sclerosis and hereditary clear cell and papillary renal cell cancer, put people at greater risk of developing the disease.
  • Gender; men are twice as likely to suffer from kidney cancer than women.
  • Family history; people with a first degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with kidney cancer have about double the risk of developing kidney cancer themselves.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and chronic kidney disease, especially people on long-term kidney dialysis, have a link to kidney cancer.
  • Previous thyroid cancer increases the risk of kidney cancer, possibly due to genetic changes that are common to both types of cancer.
  • Previous radiotherapy for testicular or cervical cancer (cancer of the neck of the womb) may slightly increase the risk of developing kidney cancer.
  • Long-term regular use of painkillers, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, phenacetin and celebrex is linked to kidney cancer.