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Cause of Kidney Cancer

Researchers have not yet identified any specific kidney cancer causes; however, they have learned that there are certain risk factors for the disease. While such a risk factor may not cause the disease, it does increase the chances of developing it. Examples of risk factors for kidney cancer include smoking, being obese, and having high blood pressure.

What Causes Kidney Cancer?

No one knows the exact cause of kidney cancer, and doctors can seldom explain why one person will get kidney cancer and another person will not. However, it is clear that this disease is not contagious -- no one can "catch" kidney cancer from another person. Kidney cancer research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop the disease. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chances of developing a disease. While not a cause of kidney cancer, a risk factor for the disease may increase a person's chances of getting the disease.
This article uses the term "kidney cancer" to refer to renal cell carcinoma (also known as renal cell cancer), the most common type of kidney cancer.
(Click Kidney Cancer Types to read about other types of kidney cancer.)

Know the Risk Factors

Specific kidney cancer risk factors include:
  • Smoking
  • Being obese
  • Having high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Undergoing long-term dialysis
  • Having von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome (a rare hereditary disease)
  • Having hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma
  • Occupational exposure to such things as asbestos, coke ovens, blast furnaces, and cadmium
  • Being male
  • Misusing certain pain medicines (including over-the-counter drugs) for a long time.
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Kidney Cancer Information

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