Obesity and Kidney Cancer

  • Kathryn M. Wilson
  • Eunyoung ChoEmail author
Part of the Recent Results in Cancer Research book series (RECENTCANCER, volume 208)


Renal cell cancer (RCC) is the major type of kidney cancer with increasing incidence. Obesity is one of the well-established risk factors for RCC. Meta-analyses including multiple cohort and case–control studies have found a consistent positive association between obesity and RCC. The association appeared to be independent of other RCC risk factors including hypertension and has been often stronger in women, although a positive association has also been observed in men. Obesity has been largely measured as body mass index (BMI). Studies which evaluated other measures of obesity including waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) as well as increase in weight have reported similar positive associations with RCC. Although the mechanisms by which obesity influences renal carcinogenesis have been under-explored, insulin resistance and certain growth factors including insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), sex steroid hormones, and biochemical markers such as adiponectin may be involved. The positive association with obesity has been observed with the clear cell type of RCC, which is the major histological subtype. On the other hand, the association between obesity and RCC survival appears to be much more complex. An apparent inverse association between obesity at time of diagnosis and RCC survival has been observed in some studies‚ generating speculation of an “obesity paradox” hypothesis. However, this “paradox” may be due to reverse causation, selection bias, or other forms of bias rather than a true biological association.


Obesity BMI Renal cell carcinoma Cancer survival Obesity paradox 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Dermatology, Warren Alpert Medical SchoolBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  4. 4.Department of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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