USC researchers suggest possible cause for kidney cancer

LOS ANGELES, May 2002 - When faced with the challenge of treating patients with kidney cancer, doctors know that todays chemotherapy offers little help. But a new study from the Keck School of Medicine of USC identifies a possible origin of the mysterious cancer, potentially pointing scientists toward ways to attack the disease.

Although scientists recognize that several factors seem to put people at higher risk of developing kidney cancer, no one has yet identified causes of the disease. USC preventive medicine researchers, however, propose in the April issue of Cancer Causes & Control that the root of the enigmatic cancer lies in a process called lipid peroxidation: the oxidation of fatty acids.

"The idea of lipid peroxidation as a mechanism for renal cell carcinoma unites many of the known risk factors for this cancer," explains Manuela Gago-Dominguez, M.D., Ph.D., researcher in preventive medicine at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and lead author of the study. "Obesity and high blood pressure, which are known to increase kidney cancer risk, are both associated with lipid disturbancesas are numerous other risk factors."

Physicians diagnosed about 30,800 new cases of kidney cancer last year in the United States, and about 12,100 people died from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Most kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas. Kidney cancer cases have risen dramatically in the U.S. and Europe in the past three decades: by the mid-1990s, rates for both men and women were 50 percent higher than comparable rates in the early 1970s.

In addition to obesity and hypertension, known risk factors for kidney cancer include cigarette smoking, diabetes, male gender and, among women, oophorectomy (undergoing removal of the ovaries) and parity (giving birth to numerous children).

USC researchers analyzed more than two dozen studies, and found increased signs of lipid peroxidation in the blood of those who are o

Contact: Jon Weiner
University of Southern California

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