Kidney Cancer Causes

Common Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer becomes more common with age, typically affecting adults in their 60s and 70s. Also called ‘renal cancer’, it is rare in individuals under the age of 50. When caught early, the prognosis can be quite positive. Early detection can be a challenge, though, as there are no obvious symptoms from the outset. When symptoms are exhibited, they can include blood in the urine, persistent pain in the sides and/or lower back, or a swelling in the side. Often times, kidney cancer may only be detected after a blood test. Several different types of kidney cancer exists, each with its own development pattern and treatment procedures. While the exact cause of kidney cancer remains unknown, doctors have pinpointed certain risk factors that increase a person’s chance of developing the disease.

Obesity

This is one of the most common risk factors for developing renal cell carcinoma and kidney cancer. People suffering from obesity- or those with a BMI of 30 or more- have a higher risk of developing the illness than those considered to be of a healthy weight. This is due to the extreme hormonal changes that obesity causes.

Hypertension

More commonly referred to as ‘high blood pressure’, hypertension and kidney cancer are often linked. The kidneys regulate blood pressure by controlling the amount of water present in the blood. More volume means more pressure on the kidneys, which secrete vitals chemicals and hormones in order to combat the hypertension. Tumors form when this type of change triggers a negative change in the cells. Additionally, some studies have shown a correlation between the consumption of certain high blood pressure medications and the development of kidney cancer. Thus, high blood pressure can be both a cause and symptom of kidney cancer.

Smoking

In addition to the plethora of other health problems that smoking causes, it is also linked to increased risk of kidney cancer. Smoking is one of the few factors that can be controlled, changed, and eliminated. The habit increases the risk of developing renal cell carcinoma, and the risk appears to be directly related to the amount a person smokes: the more that a person smokes, the greater their risk. This risk begins to decrease after quitting, though it takes years to return the risk level to that of a person who has never been a smoker.

Unfortunately, other common causes of kidney cancer are out of a person’s control, including family disease history and the inheritance of certain genetic conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, and familial papillary renal cell carcinoma. The inheritance of these syndromes can in turn increase a young person’s risk of developing a cancer that is more often seen in middle and older age. Long-term treatment for chronic kidney failure (dialysis) also increases the risk of developing this type of cancer. The most effective way to ensure one’s health and reduce the risk of kidney cancer is to eliminate the above-mentioned behaviors and treat these preexisting conditions. A healthy lifestyle acts as the first line of defense against the development of a disease.
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