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J Urol. 2006 Dec;176(6 Pt 1):2353-8.

The epidemiology of renal cell carcinoma.

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International Epidemiology Institute, 1455 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.



We identified and examined risk factors for renal cell cancer, some of which may explain in part the trends of steadily increasing incidence rates, particularly in black Americans.


Epidemiological studies were identified through a MEDLINE(R) search of the literature through February 2006. A qualitative summary of the results of individual studies is presented.


Cigarette smoking and obesity are the most consistently established causal risk factors, accounting for about 20% and 30% of renal cell cancers, respectively. Hypertension appears to independently influence renal cell cancer risk. Neither acetaminophen nor other analgesics have been convincingly linked with renal cell cancer. With respect to diet a general protective effect of fruit and vegetable consumption is the only consistently reported finding. For occupational factors the weight of the evidence provides no consistent support for the hypotheses that renal cell cancer may be caused by asbestos, gasoline or trichloroethylene exposure. Self-reported family history is associated with 2 to 3-fold increases in risk and the major inherited forms of renal cell cancer together account for about 2% of this malignancy.


A further reduction in cigarette smoking, and a decrease in the rates of obesity and hypertension would likely moderate the increasing incidence of renal cell cancer. Epidemiological studies, including evaluation of gene-environment interactions, are needed to specifically identify reasons for the increasing incidence, particularly for assessing the roles of obesity and hypertension. Special attention should be focused on black Americans since their incidence rate recently increased to significantly surpass that in white Americans.

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