Does obesity increase the risk of kidney cancer?

Obesity is an open invitation to many health problems. But, can it also alleviate the risk of kidney cancer? Expert answers.
obesity and hair loss
Fight obesity with these foods. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Partha Karmakar Updated: 23 Oct 2023, 13:06 pm IST
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Obesity is one of the major lifestyle diseases that is currently affecting people across the globe. Defined as a condition in which a person has an unhealthy distribution of fat, it can strain other organs and bones in the human body. It is a well-established fact that obesity can lead to several health problems, including Type 2 diabetes and abnormal cholesterol levels. Further, obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, which are additional risk factors for heart disease and strokes.

A body mass index (BMI) of over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is counted as obese. However, the World Health Organization has defined BMI over 23 as overweight and those above 27.5 as obese for the Asian population. Overall, the prevalence of obesity in Asians was 23.3 percent for obesity, and 40 per cent were overweight. Hence, it is essential to note that a lower body mass index is advisable for Indians compared to the western population.

exercise to fight obesity
Exercise is a must to fight obesity! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How does obesity increase the risk of cancer?

Kidney cancer is a condition that occurs when there is an abnormal growth of cells in the organ. While there are several risk factors for kidney cancer, obesity is the second biggest cause of the disease after smoking.

White adipose tissue is the predominant type of fat in the human body. It can be found beneath the skin, around internal organs, and in the central cavity of bones, as well as cushioning various body parts. This means that when a person has too much body fat, it also increases insulin and insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1), hormones known to help some types of cancers develop. Further, obesity also causes chronic inflammation and increases the risk of cancers in the kidneys as fat cells may interfere with the processes that regulate the growth of cancer related cells in the kidney.

How to prevent kidney cancer?

Renal Cell Carcinoma or RCC is considered the most lethal type of cancer among the common tumours involving the urinary system. RCC accounts for approximately four per cent of all new cancers around the globe. It mainly affects male patients between the age of 60-70 years, although this is now reducing, and even young people are getting affected with the condition. Further, it is essential to understand that approximately 30 percent of patients who undergo partial or radical nephrectomy will develop distant metastases during their lifetime. Also, about 20-25 percent of RCC patients present metastatic disease at first diagnosis.

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Obesity may leave your kidneys in danger. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Some treatment methods for kidney cancer include surgery, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. The main goal of the treatment process is to remove the part or whole kidney that has a tumour. Currently, a lot of research is being undertaken on newer treatment methods that target the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF; bevacizumab) and its receptor to treat kidney cancer. In the coming years, with an advanced treatment option, living a long and healthy life might be possible, even if a person is diagnosed with RCC in the later stages.

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About the Author

Dr Partha Karmakar is a Consultant, Nephrology and Renal Transplant at Narayana Superspeciality Hospital Howrah. He has experience of total 20 years in the field of Nephrology. He has done with multiple high risk and ABO Incompatible kidney transplants. His focus is on preventive nephrology and known for his success to avoid dialysis in many patients. His NGO is working in villages for prevention of kidney diseases. His passion is successful high risk kidney transplants. He is a medicolegal expert having obtained PGDMLS from International University of Symbiosis. He is the secretary of an organization, “Kolkata Kidney and Medicolegal Support society.” It is involved in prevention of kidney diseases in rural Bengal. ...Read More

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