Known risk factors

Of all the types of kidney cancer that adults can develop, renal cell carcinoma (RCC) occurs most often. It accounts for about 90 percent of diagnosed kidney cancers.

While the exact cause of RCC is unknown, there are known risk factors that may increase your chance of developing kidney cancer. Keep reading to find out about the seven major risk factors.

People have a greater chance of developing RCC as they get older.

Males have double the chance of having RCC compared to females.

Genetics can play a role in developing RCC. A few rare inherited conditions, such as Von Hippel-Lindau disease and hereditary (or familial) papillary RCC, put you at higher risk for developing RCC.

Von Hippel-Lindau disease causes tumors in more than one part of your body. Hereditary papillary RCC is linked to changes in certain genes.

Even if you don’t have any of the inherited conditions that have been shown to cause RCC, your family history may be a risk factor for the disease.

If someone in your family is known to have had RCC, your chances for developing kidney cancer are much greater. This risk has been proven to be particularly high if your sibling has the condition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, smokers have a greater chance of having kidney cancer than those who don’t smoke. If you quit smoking, your risk of developing the condition can be greatly reduced.

Obesity is a factor that can lead to abnormal hormone changes. These changes ultimately put obese people at a higher risk for RCC than those of normal weight.

Blood pressure is also a risk factor for kidney cancer. When you have high blood pressure, you have a greater chance of developing RCC.

One unknown about this risk factor relates to high blood pressure medicine. Specific high blood pressure medications may be linked to increased risk for RCC. However, it’s uncertain whether the increased risk is really because of the medicine or because of having hypertension. Some researchers believe that the combination of both factors leads to a heightened risk.

While having one or more risk factors for kidney disease may increase your chances of developing the condition, it doesn’t mean that you will automatically develop RCC.

Still, it’s always good to make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your risk and to make the appropriate lifestyle changes to help decrease that risk.