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Kidney Cancer Causes: Everything You Need to Know
Of the various kinds of cancers, kidney cancer ranks among the top ten when it comes to distribution and prevalence. Not only that, but the number of documented cases has been steadily climbing since the 1990s – though they seem to have leveled off. The most frustrating part of this is that nobody knows why. The causes of kidney cancer remain shrouded in shadow, as always.
However, this is no reason to panic. The aim of this article is to talk about the various known kidney cancer causes, risk factors, and things you can do for kidney cancer prevention. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
What Causes Kidney Cancer?
The short answer is, nobody really knows. Though a lot of risk factors for kidney cancer have been identified by scientists, the exact cause of cancers like RCC remains a mystery. There is an argument calling all kidney cancer genetic, and it is not without merit.
Cancer occurs when our cells mutate beyond control, resulting in tumors that may turn cancerous. One of the reasons why is hidden in our genetics – the DNA we inherit from our parents. The other reason is due to our genes being changed over the course of our lives because of our lifestyle – acquired gene mutations.
Inherited Gene Mutations
Some genes we inherit from our families raise the risk for RCC. Usually, there are genes that stop our cells from dividing out of control. Inherited mutations often undo the suppressors, not letting the body’s natural defenses do their job.
Inherited mutations in the following genes that suppress tumors lead to increased risk of kidney cancer:
- FH gene, which stops fibroids in the skin and the uterus
- FLCN gene, which controls Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome
- SDHB and SDHD genes, which deal in familial renal cancer
Acquired Gene Mutations
In most cases, kidney cancers are caused by habits and lifestyles we cultivate. Though these are not passed on, they are a bit better understood. We will discuss them in greater detail when we talk about risk factors for kidney cancer in the next section.
Kidney Cancer Risk Factors
A risk factor is defined as anything that can increase any given person’s chance of getting a disease. In this case, it is kidney cancer.
However, just because you are exposed to a risk factor does not automatically mean that it will cause cancer. Many people have gotten cancer over the years without outwardly exhibiting any risk factors.
Scientists have identified many risk factors. Know that these are not emphatically the causes of kidney cancer. These risk factors may lead to RCC, so you might as well be on the lookout for them:
Being a smoker increases your risk of developing RCC. This is one of the things you can eliminate by simply not smoking. That way, you lower the risk not just for yourself but also for everyone around you.
Obesity is among the major kidney cancer causes. Being overweight causes your body to release different hormones, and these hormones can lead to RCC. However, this is also something that you can change by managing your weight and doing proper exercise.
High Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that people with high blood pressure have a higher risk of contracting kidney cancer.
If you work in places that may expose you to radiation or certain harmful chemicals, then you are at a higher risk of contracting kidney cancer.
Race and Gender
While the causes of kidney cancer in males are not wholly related to gender, men do, on average, have a higher chance of developing kidney cancer than women. In fact, men are twice as likely to get it as women.
African Americans develop kidney cancer more often than Caucasians, but the reason for this remains unclear.
Certain medicine can raise the risk of a person developing kidney cancer. For example, studies have shown that acetaminophen, a common painkiller, increases the liability of a person getting kidney cancer.
Advice for Kidney Cancer Prevention
The cause of kidney cancer remains unknown still, to the frustration of the masses. Even when people have, and are aware of, hereditary causes, it can be difficult to prevent it altogether. However, here are some kidney cancer facts to help you lead a life away from the long shadow of cancer:
- The first thing to do is stop smoking – if you smoke at all. It is the cause of a large proportion of cancer cases worldwide, and distancing yourself from carcinogens will be a lifesaver.
- To counter obesity and high blood pressure, you want to invest in a healthy lifestyle. This involves lots of exercising, following a healthy diet plan, and consuming lots of vegetables and fruits.
- If you work with harmful chemicals, you may want to look for another source of income. If you can’t, limit your exposure to them, look up all the chemicals you do deal with, and stay away from the ones that can cause cancer.