March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month.
This year alone, the National Cancer Institute estimates that 63,920 people in the U.S. will contract kidney cancer, and 13,860 will die.
If you are a man, you are two to three times more likely to get kidney cancer than a woman. African Americans have higher rates of the disease than other ethnicities do. And, if you have certain genetic conditions, such as first-degree relatives with kidney cancer, your risk may also increase.
But, what are the causes of kidney cancer?
While doctors are unsure of the answer to this question, they do know that several factors can increase your risk of kidney cancer, including: high blood pressure, obesity, older age (kidney cancer diagnosis usually occurs between age 50 and 70) and smoking. Smoking doubles your risk for kidney cancer, as well as being a major contributor to many other types of cancer.
In addition, here are three lesser-thought-of risk factors for kidney cancer.
Kidney Cancer Risk Factors #1: Pain pills
Not all pain pills, but some. Diuretics and analgesics like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin have been linked to kidney cancer – so please, go easy on the meds. Phenacetin, an over-the-counter medicine that was once popular in the U.S., has been banned since 1983 due to its high correlation with kidney cancer.
Kidney Cancer Risk Factors #2: Cadmium exposure
What is cadmium, you ask? It’s a metallic element (Cd on the periodic table, to be precise) that’s found in numerous consumer products like batteries, paints and welding materials. Most often, you’re exposed to higher levels of cadmium toxicity when you breathe in air with high cadmium levels.
Cadmium is foundin fertilizers, metal alloys, plastics, metal coatings, pigments and batteries. (Sadly, it’s useful as well as dangerous.) You’re most likely to contract kidney cancer from cadmium poisoning if your work environment contains high levels of cadmium – that is, if you work in a place like a metal smelting or refining plant, an industrial factory, or a plant that produces cadmium products like plastics or batteries.
Living near a hazardous waste site is also a bad idea. (But we’re sure you already knew that.)
Kidney Cancer Risk Factors #3: Dialysis
But ... It was supposed to be a treatment for kidney disease, right? Well, yes and no. Dialysisis a mixed blessing. Long-term dialysis patients may develop cancerous kidney cysts. However, the good news is that these cysts are usually spotted very early, and can be removed before the cancer starts to spread.
More good news you may not have known: The survival rate for renal cell carcinoma is very high – ranging from 80 to 95 percent for cancers confined to the kidney.
For additional information about kidney cancer causes, symptoms, treatment and more, you can visit WebMD.
Talk to us in the comments! How will you be recognizing Kidney Cancer Awareness Month this March?
(Image from TheMyndset.com.)