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Cancer Prevention -- Protecting Your Bladder

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Bladder cancer is common, it is a major public health concern, and it is strongly linked to cigarette smoking.

Bladder cancer isn’t nearly as well known as lung cancer, but it should be: Bladder cancer is common, it is a major public health concern and it is strongly linked to cigarette smoking.

Most people diagnosed with bladder cancer are aged 60 or older. Carcinogens in the urine increase the risk of bladder cancer. Cigarette smoking is strongly implicated; other risk factors for bladder cancer include chronic bladder infections and treatment with cyclophosphamide (a chemotherapy medication). People regularly exposed to hair dyes in their occupation (such as hair dressers) are at increased risk for bladder cancer, but no association has been proved for people who dye their hair.

You can take these steps to lower your risk of bladder cancer:


  • Don’t smoke. Smokers and former smokers (the risk never declines to completely normal) are more than twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as people who have never smoked. It is thought that cancer-causing compounds in tobacco smoke are absorbed into the blood and eventually collect in the urine, where they damage the cells lining the bladder. However, giving up cigarettes does not seem to produce as dramatic a drop in risk for bladder cancer as for lung cancer and heart disease.


  • Drink enough fluid. Adequate intake of water and other fluids promotes urination and help to flush carcinogens from the bladder. The American Cancer Society recommends drinking several glasses of water or other nonalcoholic beverages a day.


  • Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables. A diet that routinely includes several weekly servings of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables appears to be protective.


  • Limit exposure to workplace chemicals. Chemicals used in the making of dyes, rubber, leather, textiles, printing materials and paint products have been implicated in bladder cancer.


  • Treat bladder infections. People with chronic or frequent infections have higher rates of bladder cancer than those who are not prone to such infections.

Posted in Healthy Living on August 31, 2006
Reviewed June 2011

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer

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