An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) provides solid epidemiological evidence that smokingâ€™s link to bladder cancer is even higher than previously believed. And, the elevated risk factor appears to be the same for men and women.
â€œThis is something I see in my practice every day,â€ says Viraj Master, associate professor of urology, Emory School of Medicine and director of urology clinical research at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. â€œThe dangers of smoking are pervasive. Patients are often surprised to hear of the link between smoking and bladder cancer, but itâ€™s there, and itâ€™s a very real risk.â€
The bladder may not be the first organ you think about when you think about the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. After all, when a person inhales cigarette smoke, the mouth, throat and lungs are the primary destination. But, a lethal change in the composition of cigarettes makes the bladder a target for cancer.
Written by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, the study explains that while there is less tar and nicotine in cigarettes now that in years passed, there also has been â€œan apparent increase in the concentration of specific carcinogens,â€ including a known bladder cancer carcinogen and tobacco-specific nitrosamines. The study authors also note that epidemiological studies have observed higher relative risk rates associated with cigarette smoking for lung cancer.
â€œThe take-home message, of course, is the same as it long has been â€“ donâ€™t start smoking, and if you do smoke, stop,â€ says Master. “We need to do everything in our power to both stop people from starting to smoke and to help those already addicted to stop.â€