Androgens have been suspected to be involved in the initiation of renal cell carcinoma because of a two-fold increased risk in men compared with women. To investigate the role of self-reported finasteride or oral contraceptive use in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PCLO) to determine whether the androgen receptor reduces renal cancer development. We query the PCLO trial for predictor variables from the baseline questionnaire and follow-up questionnaires enquiring medication use, specifically the use of 5-α reductase inhibitors (dutasteride or finasteride) and oral contraceptive therapy. The primary outcome of this study was the incidence of renal cancer. Statistical analysis included Student’s t-test for continuous variables, χ2, or Fisher’s exact tests for dichotomous or categorical variables, and multivariable analysis using Cox proportional hazards models. Eight percent (n=6117/73 694) of men in the PCLO trial reported the use of finasteride. 52 (10.6%) of the 492 men diagnosed with renal cancer had self-reported exposure to finasteride and this was not significant in univariable analysis (52/6169; 0.84% vs. 440/66 454; 0.67%, P=0.12) or multivariable main effects analysis (hazard ratio: 1.12; 95% confidence interval: 0.83–1.5; P=0.47). Approximately 54% of women (n=40 997/75 989) in the PCLO trial reported the use of oral contraceptives by questionnaire. 136 (52.1%) of the 261 women diagnosed with renal cancer had self-reported exposure to oral contraceptive therapy and this was not significant in univariable analysis (136/40 997; 0.33% vs. 125/34 992; 0.36%, P=0.36) or in multivariable main effects analysis (hazard ratio: 1.03; 95% confidence interval: 0.97–1.1; P=0.30). Self-reported use of finasteride or oral contraceptives is not associated with a reduced incidence of renal cancer.