Objective: Epidemiological research of recent years has produced evidence for a role of lifestyle-associated risk factors in the etiology of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common renal tumor. In this review, we give an overview of recent trends in incidence and mortality and summarize the current knowledge on risk factors of RCC.
Methods: Data on incidence and mortality in the literature were reviewed. Global incidence data were derived from the Globocan database. A literature review of epidemiological studies on risk factors of kidney cancer was performed, with special emphasis on recent studies with high level of evidence, i.e., meta-analyses and prospective cohort studies.
Results: The incidence of renal malignancies has increased over recent decades in the context of the more widespread use of diagnostic imaging. However, time trends and geographic variations in incidence and mortality may also relate to changes in the prevalence of risk factors. Cigarette smoking, excess body weight and uncontrolled blood pressure are the most important and modifiable risk factors for RCC with a high prevalence in the general population. Moreover, dietary habits associated with a Western lifestyle were proposed as potential risk factors, but no food or food group has consistently been related to RCC risk.
Conclusion: Based on the current evidence, reductions in the prevalence of cigarette smoking, overweight and hypertension are preventive strategies for RCC. More research is needed to establish the underlying mechanisms linking these risk factors and renal carcinogenesis.