Bladder Cancer Risk Factors: Smoking, Family History, etc.


Various epidemiological studies have shown a number of factors that can predispose to bladder cancer.

bladder cancer risk factors
Bladder Cancer Risk Factors Infographic
  1. Tobacco/Cigarette smoking: Use of tobacco is one of the major risk factors for bladder cancer with the higher risk involved for more amount used over a short duration. Smokers are at 3 times higher risk of developing bladder cancer compared to non-smokers.
  2. Family history: Risk of developing bladder cancer increases in an individual with a history of bladder cancer in first-degree relatives (parents, brother, sister, or child).

  3. Genetic Cancer Predisposition Syndromes: Some inherited cancer predisposition syndromes (caused by a mutation in certain genes which are generally transferred from one generation to other) have been reported to be associated with a high incidence rate of bladder cancer. Following are some examples: Lynch syndrome or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC, generally caused by mutation in the MLH1 or MSH2gene); Cowden disease (caused by mutation in PTEN/MMAC1 gene); and mutations in retinoblastoma (Rb1), SLC14A1 (a urea transporter gene), GSTM1, and NAT2.

  4. Individuals with a personal history of cancer in the lining of any part of the urinary tract are generally at higher risk of developing another cancer.

  5. Occupation exposure: Higher risk of bladder cancer is also associated with regular exposure to certain chemicals like paint, dye, heavy metals, or petroleum products generally experienced by dyestuffs workers, painters, leather workers, truck drivers, aluminum workers and workers in the dry-cleaning industry.

  6. History of exposure to radiation and treatment with certain drugs like cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, phenacetin, and pioglitazone are reported to be the independent risk factors for bladder cancer.

  7. Infection with Schistosoma haematobium (a parasitic worm that is prevalent in certain parts of Africa and the Middle East) is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.

  8. Exposure to high level of arsenic or chlorine in drinking water can also increase the risk of bladder cancer.

  9. Chronic irritation of bladder by urinary tract infection, kidney/bladder stones, or prolonged use of catheter have also been linked to high incidence of bladder cancer.

  10. Age and Gender: Older age individuals especially males are generally at increased risk of developing bladder cancer with most of the incidences observed in the 6th, 7th, and 8th decades of life.

Diabetes mellitus (especially type 2 diabetes), heavy alcohol consumption, high intake of coffee/tea, artificial sweeteners, and low intake of water are some other risk factors postulated for bladder cancer.

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To further understand the disease in a better way, have a look at the video below where CancerBro meets Mr. Blake who has recently being diagnosed with bladder cancer. CancerBro asks Mr. Blake several important questions related to his disease from early symptoms which lead her to contact an oncologist to various other risk factors related to bladder cancer.

Video Transcript:

We will meet Mr. Blake today, who has recently been diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Mr. Blake had difficulty and pain in passing urine for the last few days and recently, he also noticed reddish discoloration of urine.

He also had increased frequency of urination and had to pass urine several times a day. For these complaints, he consulted a doctor.

After complete workup, he was diagnosed to have cancer of the urinary bladder. And was admitted in hospital for treatment, let us meet him.

Mr. Blake: Hi Mr. Blake, how are you feeling now?

CancerBro: CancerBro, I was very worried when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer, but after talking to you, I am feeling a bit relaxed.

CancerBro: Okay Mr. Blake, please tell me how old are you and where are you from?

Mr. Blake: I am 70 years old and I am from the USA.

CancerBro: What work do you do Mr. Blake?

Mr. Blake: I am a worker in the dye industry.

CancerBro: Are you addicted to smoking?

Mr. Blake: Yes CancerBro, I smoke about a pack daily for almost the past 10 years.

CancerBro: Do you have a history of cancer previously, and received any form of treatment for the same?

Mr. Blake: No this is the first time.

CancerBro: Did anyone else in your family had been diagnosed with any cancer previously?

Mr. Blake: No CancerBro, no one had cancer in my family earlier.

CancerBro: Okay Mr. Blake the bladder cancer patient, thank you very much.

I think you people must have got an idea of how a patient of bladder cancer presents, and what are the risk factors for the same.

And in the following video, CancerBro explains the various RISK FACTORS associated with bladder cancer.

Video Transcript:

CancerBro, can you please explain the bladder cancer risk factors in detail?

Whites are about twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as African Americans. Asian Americans and American Indians have slightly lower rates of bladder cancer.

It is more commonly seen in the elderly as the risk of bladder cancer increases with age. Also, it is more common in men than women.

Smoking is one of the most common risk factors for bladder cancer, and the incidence increases with intensity and duration of smoking. Exposure to industrial chemicals like aromatic amines, used in dye industry can cause bladder cancer.

The risk factors are occupational exposure to organic chemicals used in rubber, leather, textile, and paint industries. Heavy exposure to hair dyes in painters, printers, hairdressers and machinists may also predispose to bladder cancer.

Previous history of cancer treatment of cancer treatment with certain chemotherapy agents or radiation may also predispose to bladder cancer. The previous history of bladder cancer in the family may increase the risk in other family members.

Other probable causes of bladder cancer are repeated bladder catheterizations, Schistosoma hematobium infection, and recurrent UTIs.

So, these were the risk factors for bladder cancer. Thanks, CancerBro, these risk factors if kept in mind may help to prevent the disease.

Absolutely, prevention is always better than cure.

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