Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A case–control study of occupation/industry and renal cell carcinoma risk

Sara Karami1*, Joanne S Colt1, Kendra Schwartz2, Faith G Davis3, Julie J Ruterbusch2, Stella S Munuo4, Sholom Wacholder1, Patricia A Stewart56, Barry I Graubard1, Nathanial Rothman1, Wong-Ho Chow1 and Mark P Purdue1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, 6120 Executive Boulevard, MSC 7242, Bethesda, MD 20892-7242, USA

2 Wayne State University, Karmanos Cancer Institute, 110 E. Warren, Detroit, MI, 48201, USA

3 University of Illinois, 877 SPHPI M/C 923, 1603 W. Taylor Street, Chicago, IL, 60612, USA

4 Formerly of Information Management Service Inc, 6110 Executive Blvd Suite #310, Rockville, MD, 20852, USA

5 Stewart Exposure Assessments, LLC, Arlington, VA, USA

6 Formerly of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, Bethesda, MD, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2012, 12:344  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-344

Published: 8 August 2012



The role of occupation in the etiology of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is unclear. Here, we investigated associations between employment in specific occupations and industries and RCC, and its most common histologic subtype, clear cell RCC (ccRCC).


Between 2002 and 2007, a population-based case–control study of Caucasians and African Americans (1,217 cases; 1,235 controls) was conducted within the Detroit and Chicago metropolitan areas to investigate risk factors for RCC. As part of this study, occupational histories were ascertained through in-person interviews. We computed odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) relating occupation and industry to RCC risk using adjusted unconditional logistic regression models.


Employment in the agricultural crop production industry for five years or more was associated with RCC (OR = 3.3 [95% CI = 1.0-11.5]) and ccRCC in particular (OR = 6.3 [95% CI = 1.7-23.3], P for trend with duration of employment = 0.0050). Similarly, RCC risk was elevated for employment of five years or longer in non-managerial agricultural and related occupations (ORRCC = 2.1 [95% CI = 1.0-4.5]; ORccRCC = 3.1 [95% CI = 1.4-6.8]). Employment in the dry-cleaning industry was also associated with elevated risk (ORRCC = 2.0 [95% CI = 0.9-4.4], P for trend = 0.093; ORccRCC = 3.0 [95% CI = 1.2-7.4], P for trend = 0.031). Suggestive elevated associations were observed for police/public safety workers, health care workers and technicians, and employment in the electronics, auto repair, and cleaning/janitorial services industries; protective associations were suggested for many white-collar jobs including computer science and administrative occupations as well employment in the business, legislative, and education industries.


Our findings provide support for an elevated risk of RCC in the agricultural and dry-cleaning industries and suggest that these associations may be stronger for the ccRCC subtype. Additional studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Kidney cancer; Renal cancer; Clear cell RCC; Occupation; Industry; Race