Kidney cancer (renal cancer) is one of the 10 most common cancers in the United States. It can affect both men and women, though it is more common in men. More than 65,000 new cases of kidney cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2013, according to the American Cancer Society. It occurs most often in people age 55 and older.
Although there is no known way to prevent kidney cancer, some factors, including lifestyle choices that are within your control, may reduce your risk for developing this disease. Here are some steps you can take that will benefit your health and may reduce your risk of kidney cancer:
- Quit smoking or using tobacco in any form: Smoking is associated with increased risk of developing kidney cancer. If you smoke and are having trouble quitting, you should know that there are many options available now to help you quit, ranging from support groups, prescription medications, and nicotine replacement products. Your doctor can help you sort through the options and find the find the option, or combination of options, best suited to you.
- Control your blood pressure: High blood pressure (hypertension) is a risk factor for kidney cancer. You and your doctor should determine if you can reduce your blood pressure through diet and exercise. If lifestyle changes are insufficient to lower your blood pressure, medications to lower blood pressure may be prescribed.
- Maintain a healthy weight and engage in regular physical activity: Obesity is linked to kidney cancer. A healthy diet — ( lean protein, fruits and vegetables, heart-healthy fats) — and regular exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off, in addition to providing numerous other health benefits.
- Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace: Be aware that exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace are toxic to your kidneys (cadmium, asbestos, benzene, and organic solvents, among others).
- Know Your Family History: If an immediate family member has been diagnosed with kidney cancer, you may want to speak with your doctor about having a kidney ultrasound to evaluate your own kidneys. However, the majority of kidney cancers are not linked to hereditary conditions.