There are environmental risk factors potentially related to renal cell
carcinoma. Smoking doubles the risk of patients having renal cell carcinoma.
also a suggestion that some heavy metals, such as exposure to lead and
cadmium, may also increase renal cell carcinoma.
And obesity is believed to be a risk factor for kidney cancer.
There are also hereditary risk factors. There are some gene mutations
in rare syndromes like tuberous sclerosis and von Hippel Lindau Disease
that are associated with an increased risk of developing kidney tumors.
Most often in tuberous sclerosis these tumors are benign. In von Hippel
Lindau Disease, they are usually malignant. von Hippel Lindau Disease
is characterized by multiple tumors of the kidneys, brain, spine and eyes,
but fortunately is rare and occurs in about I in 36,000 births. It does
occur in families and can be genetically transmitted by an abnormality
on the third chromosome. Other risk factors include long-term dialysis.
Patients may develop cysts and have a slightly increased incidence of
renal tumors. It has also been suggested that people who are overweight
and eat a high fat diet may have greater risk.