Smoking Linked to Kidney Cancer
by Jennifer Wider, MD
(Washington DC, March 17,
2005) Most everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer. But how many
people realize that inhaled tobacco smoke can wreak havoc on their kidneys?
A new study in the March 10, 2005 issue of the International Journal of
Cancer reveals that the link between smoking and kidney cancer is much
greater than expected.
The researchers analyzed
data from 24 separate studies and found that the prevalence of kidney cancer
was much higher among smokers than nonsmokers. They also discovered that the
more a person smoked, the greater the danger for his/her kidneys.
"The risk of kidney
cancer seems to increase with tobacco consumption," said Paolo Boffetta, M.D.,
lead researcher of the study and head of the Gene-Environment Epidemiology
Group in Lyon, France.
Historically, a larger
number of men have smoked cigarettes than women. The gender gap appears to
be closing however, as the decline in smoking rates among adult women seemed
to stall in the 1990's while the number of teenage girls using cigarettes
increased significantly. Roughly 30 percent of high school seniors currently
smoke, according to a report from the U.S. Surgeon General. Almost all women
who presently smoke started the habit as teens.
The study found that male
smokers were at greater risk of disease than female smokers. "This might reflect
a true biological event," Boffetta said. "But it also might be due to the
fact that the tobacco epidemics have not yet fully matured in women. For example,
smoking women have on average smoked less and for a shorter duration than
In the United States, men
were smoking cigarettes in large numbers after World War I. Most women in
this country did not start smoking until after World War II. According to
the surgeon general, there has been a 600 percent increase in lung cancer
deaths for women since 1950. The number of women suffering from smoking-related
kidney disease may reflect the same trend, as America's female smoking population
Smoking tobacco is the
leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States and has
been linked to many types of cancer, heart disease and respiratory ailments.
claim the lives of more than 440,000 people each year and injure many more.
On average, smokers die thirteen to fourteen years earlier than nonsmokers.
This study is one of the more prominent ones to shed light on the danger that
smoking poses to the kidneys.
Kicking the habit of cigarette
smoking has a tremendous number of advantages. Studies have shown that quitting
can immediately improve lung function and significantly lower the risk of
lung cancer and other diseases. This recent study revealed that there were
benefits for the kidneys as well. "The risk of kidney cancer decreases after
quitting," Boffetta added.
Women may have a harder
time quitting smoking than men. One study shows that women face more severe
withdrawal symptoms than men after they quit. The same study reveals that
women are less likely to reap the benefits from nicotine replacement therapy
when compared with men.
"Women who smoke need
to realize that quitting is usually different for them than a man," Sherry
Marts, Ph.D., vice president for scientific affairs at the Society for Women's
Health Research, a Washington, D.C., based advocacy organization. "Although
nicotine replacement therapy may not work as well for them, women are more
likely to join smoking cessation groups for social support. Women should not
be discouraged by these differences, but recognize that there are multiple
paths to the goal of a smoke free life."
Once they quit, women will
likely enjoy the same health benefits as men, including benefits for the kidneys.
© October 28, 2004 Society for Women's Health Research
The Society for Women's
Health Research is the nation's only not-for-profit organization
whose sole mission is to improve the health of women through research. Founded
in 1990, the Society brought to national attention the need for the appropriate
inclusion of women in major medical research studies and the resulting need
for more information about conditions affecting women. The Society advocates
increased funding for research on women's health, encourages the study of sex
differences that may affect the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease,
and promotes the inclusion of women in medical research studies. Dr. Donnica
Moore has been a member of the Society since 1990 and is a past member of its
Board of Directors.
Hunt J, Boffetta P et al. Renal cell carcinoma in relation
to cigarette smoking: Meta-analysis of 24 studies. International Journal of
Cancer. 2005, 114:101-108.
Office of the Surgeon General, Public Health Priorities: Tobacco
Office of the Surgeon General, Women and Smoking, a report
of the Surgeon General, 2001.
Pogun S. Sex differences in brain and behavior: emphasis on
nicotine, nitric oxide and place learning. Int J Psychophysiol. 2001;42(2):195-208.
Created: 3/17/2005  - Donnica Moore, M.D.