There are multiple environmental risk factors potentially related to renal cell carcinoma:
- Smoking doubles the risk of patients having renal cell carcinoma.
- Obesity is rapidly emerging as one of the most common risk factors for kidney cancer in the United States.
- There is also a suggestion that some heavy metals, such as exposure to lead and cadmium, may increase renal cell carcinoma.
There are also hereditary risk factors that play a part in the development of both cancerous and benign kidney tumors. Rare syndromes like tuberous sclerosis and von Hippel-Lindau disease have gene mutations that are associated with an increased risk of developing kidney tumors. Most often in tuberous sclerosis, these tumors are benign. In von Hippel-Lindau Disease, they are usually malignant. Von Hippel-Lindau disease is characterized by multiple tumors of the kidneys, brain, spine and eyes, but fortunately is rare and occurs in about one in 36,000 births. It does occur in families and can be genetically transmitted by an abnormality of the VHL gene on the third chromosome.
Other risk factors include long-term dialysis, which can result in cysts, putting patients at a slightly increased incidence of renal tumors.
More Answers from Johns Hopkins Medicine