Kidney cancer: 7 lifestyle mistakes that are damaging your kidneys, putting you at risk of cancer

Not drinking enough water or taking too many pain relievers, can put you at risk of kidney cancer.

Here are lifestyle mistakes you must avoid.

Kidney cancer can start developing silently in the cells of your crucial organ without showing any noticeable symptoms.

The risk of this cancer increases with age and lifestyle factors play a prominent role in its development. Almost 4,600 people were diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2023 and the average age at diagnosis is 65 years old

Smokers are at double the risk of developing kidney cancer compared to the ones who don’t smoke. Even if you don’t smoke or drink and have problematic lifestyle habits like eating unhealthy and staying inactive, you are at a major risk of kidney cancer as you grow old.

The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma (RCC) which accounts for about 90% of all cases.

“Kidneys are organs that work to filter waste products and excess fluids from your blood, maintain electrolyte balance, and regulate blood pressure. However, kidney health can be compromised by various factors, including lifestyle choices and medical conditions. One such concern is kidney cancer, a condition characterised by the abnormal growth of cells in the kidneys. While kidney cancer may not always present obvious symptoms in its early stages, it can progress rapidly if left untreated, posing serious health risks. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to promote kidney health and reduce the risk of kidney cancer and other related complications,” says Dr. Raghunath S.K, Senior Consultant and Director of Uro-oncology and Robotic Surgery, HCG Cancer Centre, KR Road, Bangalore.

“Kidney cancer is often linked to factors such as smoking, obesity, and genetic predisposition. Symptoms include blood in urine, back pain, weight loss, and fatigue. Diagnosis involves imaging tests. Treatment options include surgery, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and participation in clinical trials, tailored to the cancer stage and patient’s health,” adds Dr Raghunath.

Early detection is vital for a better prognosis. There are preventive measures that one must follow to lower the risk of kidney cancer.

Lifestyle mistakes to avoid kidney cancer

Here are lifestyle mistakes you must avoid to safeguard your kidneys from cancer as suggested by Dr Raghunath SK:

1. Not eating a balanced diet: Prioritise a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while limiting processed meats, sugary beverages, and unhealthy fats. These nutrient-dense foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support optimal kidney function and reduce the risk of kidney cancer.

2. Excess weight: Aim to maintain a healthy body weight through regular exercise and mindful eating habits. Excess weight can strain the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney disease and cancer. Focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-rich foods in appropriate portions to support weight management and overall health.

3. Not drinking water: Adequate hydration is essential for proper kidney function and the elimination of waste products and toxins from the body. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, aiming for at least 8 glasses or 2 litres, to support optimal kidney health. Monitor your urine colour; pale yellow urine indicates adequate hydration.

4. Smoking and alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are significant risk factors for kidney cancer. Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake can help protect your kidneys and reduce your risk of cancer. Seek support from healthcare professionals or support groups if you need assistance quitting smoking or reducing alcohol consumption.

5. Not keeping blood pressure in check: High blood pressure can damage the kidneys over time, increasing the risk of kidney disease and cancer. Monitor your blood pressure regularly and take steps to keep it within a healthy range through lifestyle modifications such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and, if necessary, medication. Consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

6. High blood sugar levels: Individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk of kidney disease and cancer. Maintain tight control over blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, medication, and regular monitoring. Monitor your carbohydrate intake, engage in regular physical activity, and adhere to your diabetes management plan to minimize the risk of kidney complications.

7. Taking way too many pain relievers: Certain over-the-counter pain relievers, when used excessively, can harm the kidneys. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be used sparingly and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Consider alternative pain management strategies such as physical therapy, heat therapy, or acupuncture. Always follow the recommended dosage instructions and avoid long-term use of NSAIDs without medical supervision.

By incorporating simple yet effective strategies into daily routines, individuals can take proactive steps towards protecting their kidneys and maintaining optimal health.

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