Kidney Cancer risk increased by obesity.




British Journal of Cancer

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Renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer. In the beginning stages of this cancer, symptoms may not be noticeable. After the cancer matures and begins to spread, however, some signs may occur such as sporadic blood in the urine or a lump or mass in the kidney area. Other, less common symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, or fever may also be present. Renal cell carcinoma can eventually spread to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes. Every year, 28,000 Americans are diagnosed with kidney cancer.1 Risk factors that can contribute to renal cell cancer are smoking, exposure to harmful chemicals, high intake of red meat, and obesity.

Numerous studies have been concluded since 1966 regarding the link between obesity and renal cell carcinoma. A current review of these studies was reported in a recent issue of the British Journal of Cancer. Focusing on the suspected link between obesity and renal cell carcinoma, the authors reviewed over 50 studies. The researchers found that for every unit that the BMI (Body Mass Index) increased, the relative risk estimate also increased. The evidence of this review provided a conclusion that obesity increases the risk for renal cell cancer equally in both men and women. While it was previously believed that this link was found primarily in women, in this study both men and women who were overweight increased their risk by 35%.2

The outlook for renal cell carcinoma is positive, and with an early diagnosis, it can be eliminated or at least prevented from spreading. Types of treatment often include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and immunotherapy. An awareness of the risk factors along with the subsequent lifestyle changes may reduce the chances of being diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma.


1. National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health. Kidney Cancer. Update 2000.
2. Bergström A, et al. Obesity and renal cell cancer - a quantitative review. British Journal of Cancer. Sep 2001;85(7): 984-990.