Bladder cancer risk factors come from a combination of environment and genetics. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common internal cancer in males.
The most common bladder cancer risk factors are smoking, obesity, hypertension, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise. Having been treated with chemotherapy drugs such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) or radiation for past cancers in the pelvis area, such as prostate cancer, also is among bladder cancer risk factors.
Exposure to workplace chemicals may increase your risk as well. Truck drivers and people who work with textiles, rubber, paint, aluminum, pesticides, and leather have a higher chance of acquiring bladder cancer.
According to a study by the National Institute of Health, current smokers have four times the bladder cancer risk factor than a nonsmoker. The risk went down to half that for people who stopped smoking.
A few bladder cancer risk factors are beyond prevention or environmental triggers such as age, gender, and race. Risk goes up with age. Men are three times more likely to get bladder cancer than are women. Caucasian males have the highest bladder cancer risk factors. Sometimes there is a family history of bladder cancer, and scientists have found a few genetic markers for bladder cancer.
How does cancer form in the bladder?
Our kidneys clean toxins and waste products from our body. Every day the kidneys remove approximately two quarts of water and waste product from our blood. Urine is made up of water and these waste products. The urine travels from the kidneys to the bladder through ureters. Because urine is stored for long periods in the bladder, any toxins or carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances in the urine stay in contact with the bladder lining and can cause damage, increasing risk of cancer. The bladder lining stays in contact with harmful substances for much longer than other tissues.
Lowering your bladder cancer risk
To lower your risk of bladder cancer, you should adopt a healthy lifestyle. Don’t smoke. Exercise several days a week and eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage may play a role in preventing bladder cancer, as does drinking plenty of water. Avoid exposure to chemicals and environmental toxins. Following these guidelines will give you an all-around healthier body and help your body lower your risk of bladder cancer as well as your risk for other cancers.
Supplements and bladder cancer
If you fall in a high-risk group for bladder cancer such as past exposure to pesticides or chemicals through work, or if you have been treated for prostate cancer, there are some natural supplements you can take for good urinary tract health. Green tea extract contains antioxidant properties that seem to keep bladder cancers from spreading, it causes cancer cells to die, and it boasts many health benefits for men. Cranberry has long since been used for overall urinary tract health. Cranberries are high in polyphenols, which are thought to have antioxidant or anticancer properties. Researchers believe that cranberries contain substances that not only prevent bladder cancers from taking hold but also stop bladder cancers that are already forming by having an antiproliferative effect on the developing cancer cells.
Through supplements, diet, and good lifestyle habits, you can help lower your bladder cancer risk factors.
National Institutes of Health. Smoking and bladder cancer. 2011 Aug 29
Prasain JK et al. Effect of cranberry juice concentrate on chemically-induced urinary bladder cancers. Oncol Rep 2008 Jun; 19(6): 1565-70.