Greater Boston Urology Blog

Uncovering More about Bladder Cancer Risk

When considering the many negative effects of smoking, lung cancer is often thought of first, as a deadly consequence. What many people don’t realize is that smoking causes damage to nearly every organ in the human body - right down to the DNA, Mother Nature’s “Morse Code” for the development, operation, and reproduction of all living creatures. Carcinogens, which are cancer-causing chemicals that are inhaled into the lungs while smoking, find a way out through urine concentrated in the bladder, making smoking the leading preventable risk-factor associated with developing bladder cancer.

When tobacco smoke is inhaled, carcinogens travel a path throughout the body. This toxic journey begins when smoke is drawn into the lungs, and some of the carcinogens are absorbed into the blood. Through the blood, carcinogens are filtered by the kidneys and passed into the urine. When the chemical-laced urine collects in the bladder, damage to the cells around the organ’s lining occurs.

According to the National Institutes of Health, smoking is the most important risk factor for bladder cancer. Smokers are four times more likely to develop bladder cancer as their smoke-free counterparts, and quitters are twice as likely to be diagnosed as compared to those who have never smoked. Kicking the habit can reduce the risk of bladder cancer, in addition to many other types of cancers and health problems.

The risk of developing bladder cancer increases with age. The American Cancer Society has reported that nine out of ten people with bladder cancer are over the age of 55. Bladder cancer is more common in men and has been linked to certain workplace environments. Careers that require prolonged exposure to chemicals including those in the dye, rubber, leather, and textile industries are at the highest risk. Firefighters are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer due to extended exposure to benzidene compounds found in smoldering debris, as reported by Add cigarette smoking to one of these high-risk careers, and the likelihood of developing bladder cancer is further augmented.

The physicians at Greater Boston Urology (GBU) urge patients to watch for bladder cancer symptoms which include blood in the urine, dark-colored urine, or frequent and painful urination. Those at risk due to lifestyle choices or family history should participate in early detection screening. Isolating controllable risk factors and implementing changes like smoking cessation can have a positive impact on a future diagnosis.

Greater Boston Urology recognizes that quitting smoking is not an easy venture, but one that reaps many rewards. For the best outcome, smokers should arm themselves with a strong support system and take the process one day at a time. For additional information and guidance, visit:

Greater Boston Urology was founded in 2010, bringing together many of the most talented urology physicians in the nation to provide extraordinary and compassionate care. Greater Boston Urology has a skilled team of professionals ready to answer your questions, today. Call us at (855) 505-3335 to schedule an appointment.

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