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Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine


 Risk factors

Most scientists agree that these things affect the risk of kidney cancer. Some may apply to you, but others may not.

Age
Sex
Weight
Tobacco use
Blood pressure
Family history



Age and kidney cancer
The risk of kidney cancer goes up with age. The average age kidney cancer is found is 66.

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Sex and kidney cancer
Men have a greater risk of kidney cancer than women, although it's not exactly clear why. It could be due to genetics; differences in certain lifestyle factors, like smoking; or a combination of the two.

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Weight and kidney cancer
People who maintain a healthy weight have a lower risk of kidney cancer. One reason may be that fat tissue affects different hormone levels in the body. Too much fat tissue can lead to higher hormone levels and increase the risk of cancer.

People who maintain a healthy weight also have a lower risk of colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, and stroke. And women have a lower risk of breast cancer and uterine cancer.

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Tobacco use and kidney cancer
People who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of kidney cancer. When they inhale tobacco smoke, chemicals filter into their urine. Urine is made in the kidneys. The chemicals cause cells in the kidneys to become cancerous.

In addition to kidney cancer, people who smoke also have a higher risk of many other types of cancer, including leukemia and cancers of the lung, lip, mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, stomach and pancreas. Smokers also have a higher risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, bone loss (osteoporosis), emphysema, and bronchitis.


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Blood pressure and kidney cancer
Blood pressure is the force created when the heart pumps blood. When a person has high blood pressure (hypertension), this means the heart has to pump harder and the arteries that carry the blood are under more pressure. This increased pressure can lead to injury of the artery walls and can also cause kidney damage. People with high blood pressure have a higher risk of kidney cancer.

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Family history and kidney cancer
People who have a close relative (mother, father, brother, or sister) with kidney cancer have a higher risk of the disease. This is because some kidney cancer is linked to mutations in the genetic structure (DNA) of the body's cells that can be passed from generation to generation.

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