Kidney cancer (renal-cell carcinoma) is among the most rapidly increasing cancers in the U.S., particularly among those with ancestral roots in Africa.1 Past studies have found an association between renal-cell carcinoma and cigarette smoking, obesity, the use of certain pain-killing medications, diuretics and high blood pressure.
A recent long-term prospective study of 363,992 Swedish men sheds some light on the most important risk factors for renal-cell carcinoma.2 The men in this study were on average 44 years old at the start of the study and they were followed for an average of 16 years. Cigarette smoking was associated with a 60% increased risk of developing renal-cell carcinoma. By contrast the risk was increased much more by both an increased body weight and an increase in blood pressure. For men less than 50 years at entry the risk of developing renal-cell carcinoma was nearly doubled for those who had a body mass index (BMI) of 22.86 to 25.96 compared to the thinnest men (BMI < 22.85). For men with a BMI of 26 or more the risk was increased 2.5 fold.
The impact of increasing blood pressure (BP) on the risk of renal-cell carcinoma in this study was even greater than that of cigarette smoking or excessive body weight. For men under age 50 years, a diastolic BP of 80-99mmHg was associated with a 2.2-fold increased risk compared to those with a diastolic BP less than 80. For those with a diastolic BP of 100mmHg or more the risk increased 4.5-fold. It is possible that cancer of the kidney could be causing some elevation of BP. However, even after excluding those men who developed this cancer within five years of follow-up, the risk was still much greater for those with higher BP.
Precisely how weight gain and increasing BP promote renal-cell carcinoma is not yet known but it seems clear that the primary reason this deadly cancer is increasing in the U.S. is the increasing number of overweight people coupled with a high incidence of hypertension. The authors of this study concluded, “Our findings underscore the importance of even small excesses of body-mass index and BP in the development of renal-cell cancer and suggest that effective control of weight and hypertension may be useful in the prevention of this increasingly common type of cancer.”
1. Chow WH, Devesa SS, Warren JL, Fraumeni JF Jr. JAMA 1999;281: 1628-31
2. Chow WH, Gridley G, Fraumeni JF, Jarvholm B. N Engl J Med 2000;343:1305-11
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.