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Causes of Kidney Cancer?

Posts: 28
Joined: Oct 2012

Hello everyone and happy "day after the world ends!"

I am doing some research online and doing some reading about the causes of kidney cancer. I really haven't found anything definitive. My urologist could not give me much information on it, except to say it was more common among men, smokers, and the elderly. I am none of the three, and my BMI is normal.
I don't think my cancer is familial, but my mother and grandmother did have breast cancer. I'm not sure if that is relevant here.

I can't help but think back over my life and try and see what may have been a possible factor. We are all exposed to a lot of toxins in the air we breathe, foods we eat, chemicals we use. I cleaned houses for a living years ago and worked with cleaning agents. I color my hair regularly. I eat a lot of sweets. I've had quite a few x-rays. I drink out of plastic water bottles. I take antidepressants. My parents both smoked, and my mother smoked while she was pregnant with me. I often wonder which of these might have had something to do with it, or maybe all, or none. Maybe there are some mind/body connections too.

Just wondering what others may have learned in their travels, so to speak.


foxhd's picture
Posts: 3183
Joined: Oct 2011

Boolea, the most common similarity with tongue in cheek is that on this thread many of us ride motorcycles and golf. The rest live in Michigan. There does not seem to be a common cause for kidney cancer. It is not like we all have had a habit of drinking turpentine or eating food with red dye #21. Don't beat yourself up over having done something avoidable. So far, they haven't identified a cause.

Texas_wedge's picture
Posts: 2798
Joined: Nov 2011

Boo, most of us do this - trying to guess how we came by RCC and it seems a futile exercise so far. You're right to think about environmental toxins but we're all exposed to many of these to a greater or lesser extent. With an OK BMI and not smoking you've looked after yourself in a way to minimise risk of kidney cancer and many other cancers too. You're also lucky not to be an old man!

The only significant factors known to increase risk of RCC are obesity, smoking and other toxins, such as Agent Orange.

There are somewhat more speculative ones - I've identified a particularly high risk for men who are engineers, named Gar(r)y or Larry and who ride Harleys to golf courses in Michigan, though I'm not yet certain how golf handicap factors into this.

As Fox has said already, don't beat yourself up over pointless wondering about causes. Just get on with enjoying life and have a great Christmas!

dhs1963's picture
Posts: 513
Joined: May 2012

My father had it, and his father had it. I am participating in and NIH study in familial kidney cancer. They are looking for genetic causes, and potential cures for the disease. There are clearly environmental causes, there are dominant genetic links, and non-dominant genes. A recent study in Iceland, where they have a single payer system without the constraints of HIPAA, and 1500 years of genealogical lineage, there is an indication that the majority of RCC cases have a genetic component. That is published in the Int. Journal of Cancer, Vol. 100, pp 476-479 from 2002.

Posts: 25
Joined: Dec 2012

From what I understand the causes for Kidney Cancer later in life are mostly environmental causes. I asked my doctor this same exact question and he said in my case it was almost certainly something certainly genetic. Genetic could just mean you are more likely to get the cancer. I am 18 and the doctor was sure it had something to do with genetics because I too have absolutely none of the typical risk factors. I don't want to scare anyone about their genetics, but if you are younger and have kidney cancer it may be worth it to ask your doctor about genetics.

todfloyd's picture
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 2013

I have been thinking the same thing. For me I think it was a combination of two actions of mine.

1st. I smoked for 20 years, stopped about 9 years ago.

2nd.  In the early 1990's, I worked at a steel plant in maintenance and we had a 55 gallon drum of a mixture of these three chemicals, Toulene, Trilene and Ethyl-Benzene.  We use to about bathe in this chemical cleaning machine parts and cleaning ourselves,  I know that benzene is highly carcinoginic, so perhaps that was part of it.

3rd.  My 2nd cousin had kidney cancer so perhaps thats it.



GSRon's picture
Posts: 1304
Joined: Jan 2013

When I had the conversation with my doctor.. his first question was if I had been around any solvents..  and when I said yes, he said, now you know why...    Maybe or maybe not... who knows..??  But other than it being hereditary it does not change anything.... 

Be Well..!!


Galrim's picture
Posts: 305
Joined: Apr 2013

From where I come from (Denmark) the official medical and statistical stance is 30% smoking, 30% obesity and the rest unknown or connected to enviromental factors. Working with asbest (is it called that in English too?) puts you in a high risk group. The gender split in Denmark is 55/45 M/F.


Posts: 59
Joined: Jun 2010

It's a good question...

Although we can't go back and change the past, and it serves no useful purpose whatsoever to assign blame to ourselves for things that we may or may not have done differently, I think it's important to address any modifiable risk factors that can help prevent a recurrence.  Not that I've been so great about that myself.  I did give up smoking but I now weigh more than I ever have in my life, and that is a big risk factor itself.  When I was diagnosed with RCC I was in great shape, and at 37 I was also younger than the average RCC patient.  At the time my nephrologist told me that it was simply a 'fluke' and that I shouldn't worry about it.

Still, I think it's only human nature to want to know what we did to bring this upon us.


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