Risk Factors for Developing Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer

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Risk factors are considered to be anything that increases your chances of cancer. Researchers have found several factors related to kidney (renal cell) cancer. Smoking and misusing certain pain medicines can affect the risk of developing renal cell cancer. Risk factors also include the following:

  • Smoking has been proven to increase the risk of developing renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). The risk factor for smoking increases along with the amount and frequency of smoking. The risk of developing kidney cancer decreases upon quitting smoking. However, it may take years before the risk has decreased to the level of a non-smoker.
  • Misusing certain pain medicines, including over-the-counter pain medicines, over an extended period of time. Phenacetin, a popular over-the-counter pain medication, has been proven to be a risk factor for kidney (renal cell) cancer.  However, Phenacetin has not been available in the United States for more than twenty years. Some studies also show that diuretics are linked to kidney cancer, although it is uncertain whether it is the medicine or the high blood pressure that diuretics treat that is ultimately responsible for increasing the risk factor.
  • Certain genetic conditions. People with von Hippel-Lindau disease, hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma, hereditary leiomyoma-renal cell carcinoma, and Birt-Hogg-Dube (DHB) syndrome are more likely to develop kidney cancer.
Other risk factors for kidney (renal cell) cancer include obesity, exposure to asbestos, cadmium, herbicides, benzene, or trichloroethylene, a family history of renal cancer, high blood pressure, and advanced kidney disease. In addition, renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) is approximately twice as likely in men as women, and slightly more prevalent in African-Americans.



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