Preventing kidney cancer 

As the causes of kidney cancer aren't fully understood, it's not possible to completely prevent it.

However, leading a healthy lifestyle may help reduce your chances of developing the condition.

Read about the causes of kidney cancer.

Combining a healthy diet and regular exercise will help you avoid becoming overweight or obese, which are both significant risk factors for kidney cancer.

If you're overweight or obese, you can lose weight and maintain a healthy weight by combining regular physical activity with a calorie-controlled diet.

Read more about healthy weight loss and treating obesity.


A low-fat, high-fibre diet that includes whole grains and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day) is recommended for a healthy heart.

You should also limit the amount of salt in your diet to no more than 6g (0.2oz or 1 teaspoon) a day. Too much salt will increase your blood pressure.

Avoid eating foods high in saturated fat because it will increase your cholesterol level. High-fat foods include:

  • meat pies
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • butter
  • ghee  a type of clarified butter often used in Indian cooking
  • lard
  • cream
  • hard cheese
  • cakes and biscuits
  • foods that contain coconut or palm oil

There's some evidence that eating a diet that has plenty of oily fish (at least one portion a week) may help reduce the risk of kidney cancer. Examples of oily fish include:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • sardines
  • trout
  • herring

Oily fish also contains vitamin D, which can reduce the risk of some cancers. You can also get vitamin D from sunlight or by taking supplements.


It's recommended that adults should do a minimum of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or brisk walking, every week.

The exercise should be strenuous enough to increase your heart rate and you should feel slightly out of breath afterwards.

Examples of activities you could incorporate into your exercise programme include:

If you find it difficult to do 150 minutes of exercise a week, start at a level you feel comfortable with.

You could try the Couch to 5K challenge, which is designed to get just about anyone off the couch and running 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) in 9 weeks.

However, you should visit your GP for a health check if you've never exercised before or you're returning to exercise after a long period of time.

Read more about exercise and its benefits.

Giving up smoking

If you smoke, giving up is the most effective way of preventing kidney cancer, as well as a number of other serious health conditions, such as strokeheart attack and lung cancer.

Your GP can help if you want to stop smoking, by giving you information and advice, and prescribing medication.

The NHS Smokefree website also has useful information and advice about giving up smoking. Alternatively, you can call the free Smokefree national helpline on 0300 123 1044.

Read more about giving up smoking.


There's evidence to suggest that drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, such as 4-5 glasses of wine a month, will help reduce your risk of developing kidney cancer. The reasons for this aren't fully understood.

However, you shouldn't exceed the recommended limits for alcohol, because excessive drinking will place you at risk of developing liver disease, liver cancer, and high blood pressure (hypertension).

  • men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
  • spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week

A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal-strength lager or a pub measure (25ml) of spirits. A small (125ml) glass of wine contains 1.5 units of alcohol.

Read more about drinking and alcohol and alcohol units.

Couch to 5K

Regular running can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, boost your mood and keep your weight under control. In this video, watch how Laura went from fitness phobe to keen runner with the Couch to 5K programme.

Media last reviewed: 03/05/2016

Next review due: 03/05/2018

Lose weight

Weight loss resources to help you lose weight healthily, including the NHS 12-week diet and exercise plan

Page last reviewed: 17/10/2014

Next review due: 17/10/2016