A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing cancer. Some risk factors cannot be changed, such as age and genetics. Fortunately, some risk factors can be modified.
Smoking tobacco introduces a variety of harmful chemicals into your body. The chemicals enter the bloodstream and are processed through the body. Since kidneys filter toxins out of the blood, the kidneys are regularly exposed to concentrated amounts of these harmful chemicals.
Quitting smoking is an important step in preventing kidney and other cancers. The sooner smoking is stopped, the sooner the body can start to heal. Talk to your doctor about the options available to help you successfully quit.
Chemical exposure can occur in many different jobs. If possible, try to find work in a different environment. If it is unavoidable, take steps to protect yourself from exposure. Check with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or the Environmental Protection Agency about any available protective guidelines.
Obesity may alter hormone levels that are associated with kidney cancer. Weight loss takes time and there is no quick fix. Give yourself time to make adjustments to your diet. Portion control, combined with healthy food choices, will get you started on the right track. You can also increase your calorie loss by increasing your physical activity level. Regular exercise will help you meet your weight loss goals. If you need to lose weight, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who can help you do so slowly and safely.
Good nutrition in general supports your body's immune system which can help decrease your risk of any cancer. Nutrition guidelines specific to kidney cancer include:
If you have high blood pressure, follow your treatment plan. High blood pressure can cause damage to structures in the kidneys. Maintaining blood pressure within a normal range will keep your kidneys healthier. It is important to keep taking medications, even when you feel well. If you have unpleasant side effects from medications, talk to your doctor about alternatives that may be available. Consider getting a blood pressure monitor for the home so you can take regular measurements.
Kidney cancer. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/what-kidney-cancer. Accessed February 28, 2020.
Kidney cancer (adult)—renal cell carcinoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
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Accessed February 28, 2020.
Renal cell carcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114704/Renal-cell-carcinoma. Updated October 10, 2018. Accessed February 28, 2020.
Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 2/28/2020