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Kidney Disease and Cancer Prevention

Kidney Disease and Cancer Prevention

Over the years, research has been performed on people with kidney disease, including early stage chronic kidney disease (CKD), end stage kidney disease (ESKD) and post-transplant, to study their risk for cancer. Evidence shows, compared to the general population, cancer risk for ESKD patients has increased 20% in the US. Transplant recipients are three to four times at higher risk of cancer than the general public. Smaller studies have been completed for early stage CKD; however, more research is needed to determine fuller scope of risk. Some factors that increase risk for CKD patients are compromised immunity, long term buildup of toxins in the body, or immunosuppressive therapies.

How can phytonutrients and antioxidants help prevent cancer?

Phytonutrients: These bioactive compounds (flavonones, flavonoids and carotenoids) can help prevent and repair DNA damage in cells and help protect us from cancer development. They infuse vegetables and fruits with several of their cancer-fighting benefits. It is still unknown what the ideal amount of phytonutrients should be; however, researchers agree that as fruit and vegetable intake increases, so does phytonutrient intake.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants help cut back free radicals in the body, which can lower the risk of damaged cells, and protect against cancer development. Free radicals are by-products of energy metabolism. Some free radical production is normal for the body, but excess free radicals can damage cells and contribute to cancer production. Antioxidants are found as vitamins and minerals.

Where can I find phytonutrients and antioxidants?

Plants are the main sources of phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Cruciferous and dark, leafy green vegetables: spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and collards
Fruit: berries, citrus, pomegranate and cherries
Legumes: lentils, beans and peas
Whole grains: quinoa, oats, whole grain barely
How can I incorporate these and other healthy foods into my diet?
Research suggests the nutrients found naturally in foods offer a protective effect. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains from the above list. Eat foods high in fiber. Follow a diet similar to the Mediterranean diet that includes plant-based proteins and healthy fats.

Phytonutrients and antioxidants in supplement form may not be as easily absorbed as those from food. Choose nutrient-rich, whole foods and beverages as the best source of nutrients for cancer prevention.

Researchers strongly recommend cancer screening for people with kidney disease. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing it and positively support treatment and recovery if you are diagnosed with it.


1. Spinach and Cancer. Oncology Nutrition – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eatright.org (Accessed 7/7/2021)

2. Navigating a Chronic Kidney Disease Diet for Individuals with Cancer. Elizabeth Reist, BS. Journal of Renal Nutrition, Vol 31, No 3 (May), 2021:pp e1-e2.

3. Reduce Breast Cancer Risk. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eatright.org (Accessed 7/7/2021)

4. 7 Cancer Prevention Tips for Your Diet. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eatright.org (Accessed 7/7/2021)
Cancer Fighting Foods. Oncology Nutrition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.Eatright.org (Accessed 8/2/2021)

5. Stengel, Benedicte. “Chronic kidney disease and cancer: a troubling connection.” Journal of nephrology vol. 23,3 (2010): 253-62. (Accessed on 9/7/2021)

6. Thakur VS, Deb G, Babcook MA, Gupta S. “Plant phytochemicals as epigenetic modulators: role in cancer chemoprevention.” Am Assoc Pharmaceutical Scientists J. 2014; 16 (1): 151-163. doi 10.1208/s12248-013-9548-5.


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