Kidney disease is linked with cancer

06/16/2009 - Articles

Kidney disease is linked with cancer

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD



Although we already know that end-stage renal disease is linked to an increase in cancer risk, little is known of how much of a risk lesser stages of kidney disease might pose.

A large study from Australia now reveals that men with moderate kidney dysfunction are at increased risk of urinary tract and lung cancer. The risk does not extend to women however, and the underlying mechanism is not yet understood.



Both those with end-stage renal disease and kidney transplant recipients run an increased risk of cancer. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) which encompasses lesser degrees of kidney malfunction affects about one third of older people, so it is important to know whether they too are at risk.


What was done

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Australia, studied data from 3,654 people aged 49 to 97 years, looking for any link between impaired kidney function and increased risk of cancer. The study ran for 10 years.


What was found

Men with moderately impaired kidney function proved to have a 39% increased risk of cancer compared to those with normal kidney function. The risk went up as kidney function declined and those with significant dysfunction had a three fold increased risk. The association applied to lung and urinary tract cancer, but not to prostate cancer. Women with impaired kidney function were found to have no increased risk of cancer.


What this study means

It may be that inflammation caused by CKD is a factor in the development of cancer. There could also be a link with vitamin D deficiency, which is often found in CKD. It is interesting that the link between CKD and cancer is found only among men; this requires further investigation. It may be that CKD prevention could be a new approach to protecting men, at least, from cancer.



Wong G, Hayen A et al Association of CKD and cancer risk in older people Journal of the American Society of Nephrology online April 30 2009 doi 10.1681/ASN.2008090998

Created on: 05/08/2009
Reviewed on: 06/16/2009

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