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What Are the Causes of Kidney Cancer?

By Alex Terris
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many potential risk factors which can lead to kidney cancer. Obesity, for example, is one of the most common causes of kidney cancer. Smoking and high blood pressure are two other factors that are strongly correlated with the chance of getting the disease. Other less common causes of kidney cancer can include exposure to asbestos, drug misuse, and undergoing a kidney transplant. Those who require dialysis due to kidney failure may also be more likely to contract the disease.

The causes of kidney cancer vary among patients, but there are several main risk factors. One of the most common risk factors for kidney cancer is obesity. Men who are obese have been shown to have a 55% increased chance of getting the disease, and women as much as an 85% increased chance. It is not conclusively known why obesity is linked to kidney cancer, but it is thought to be related to the level of certain hormones in the body.

Smoking is another of the main causes of kidney cancer although it is also not known why this is the case. It is estimated that people who smoke about 20 cigarettes a day are 200% more likely to suffer from kidney cancer compared to a nonsmoker. The chances of getting the disease are increased with the number of cigarettes smoked on a daily basis. Smoking also heightens the risk of various other types of cancer.

The other main risk factor for kidney cancer is high blood pressure. People who have high blood pressure are more than twice as likely to become afflicted with the disease, although it is not currently known why. There are some doctors who think that high blood pressure could be caused by an undiagnosed kidney disease, which could also increase the chances of kidney cancer. The correlation could also be attributed to the fact that people who smoke often have high blood pressure.

Obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure are the three main causes of kidney cancer, but there are a number of other potential risk factors. Asbestos poisoning, for example, is thought to make kidney cancer more likely. If a person suffers from kidney failure and has to undergo dialysis, the possibility of acquiring cancer in the kidneys is also greatly increased. Other risk factors include cocaine addiction, a kidney transplant, or tuberous sclerosis, which is a rare condition that causes tumors in the body.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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