Scottish Cancer Prevention Network

Diet, nutrition, physical activity and kidney cancer


Sep 15

The latest update report from The World Cancer Research Fund [1] analyses worldwide research on how certain lifestyle factors affect the risk of developing kidney cancer. Currently the 12th most common cancer worldwide, with 337,860 cases recorded in 2012, it is predicted that the incidence of kidney (renal) cancer will rise by 22% by 2020. Since the 2007 Second Expert Report [2] 29 studies comprising nearly 9.7 million adults and 15,039 cases of kidney cancer have reported their findings. From this body of research there is strong evidence that being overweight or obese or that being tall increases the risk of kidney cancer. There is also strong evidence that consuming alcoholic drinks decreases the risk of kidney cancer, when consuming up to 30 grams (about 2 drinks) a day however it is also important to remember that there is strong evidence that alcohol is linked to an increased risk of five other cancers. There is limited evidence suggesting that consuming drinking water that contains arsenic increases the risk of kidney cancer. None of these findings are new but it serves a timely reminder that maintaining a healthy bodyweight is the most important recommendation for stacking the odds against cancer occurrence or recurrence after smoking cessation.


World Cancer Research Fund International/American Institute for Cancer Research. Continuous Update Project Report: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Kidney Cancer. 2015. Available at:

World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. 2007.