Cancer Home > Kidney Cancer Risk Factors

Researchers have identified certain factors that increase a person's risk of developing kidney cancer. Some of these kidney cancer risk factors include smoking, undergoing long-term dialysis, and having high blood pressure. Other risk factors for kidney cancer include being male, having von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, and misusing pain medications for an extended period of time. While these kidney cancer risk factors increase the chances of developing the disease, they are not causes of kidney cancer -- not everyone with risk factors for kidney cancer will develop the disease.

Kidney Cancer Risk Factors: An Introduction

No one knows the exact cause of kidney cancer and doctors can seldom explain why one person will get this disease and another person will not. However, kidney cancer research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop kidney cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
For the purposes of this article, the term "kidney cancer" refers to renal cell carcinoma (also known as renal cell cancer), the most common type of kidney cancer.
[Click Wilms' Tumor or Transitional Cell Carcinoma (of the Ureter and Renal Pelvis) for information about other types of kidney cancer.]
Specific kidney cancer risk factors include:
  • Smoking
  • Being obese
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Undergoing long-term dialysis
  • Having von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (a rare hereditary disease)
  • Having Hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma
  • Occupational exposure to such things as blast furnaces, coke ovens, asbestos, and cadmium
  • Being male
  • Misusing certain pain medicines (including over-the-counter drugs) for a long time.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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