Most people associate smoking with lung cancer, but it can cause many other health problems too, including bladder cancer. In fact, smoking is the number one cause of bladder cancer. If you smoke then you are more likely to be affected than ex-smokers or people who have never smoked at all.
Smoking is very harmful for our bodies because it releases many different chemicals that can damage cells and DNA. Since the chemicals get into our bloodstream through the lungs, they can reach every part of our bodies. The bladder is particularly susceptible because some of these chemicals can accumulate in the urine on their way out of the body. While the urine is being stored in the bladder, the chemicals can affect the surrounding bladder. The more you smoke and the longer you smoke for, the higher the risk of cancer.
The Risk of Bladder Cancer for Smokers
Approximately 10,000 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year. It is estimated that 45% of these bladder cancers were caused by smoking. The number of people affected by bladder cancer in the UK has dropped 39% since the early 1990s, largely because of a reduction in smoking and exposure to passive smoke.
Around 1 in 50 men and 1 in 133 women will be affected by bladder cancer at some point in their lives. However, if you are a smoker then you are still about three times more likely to develop bladder cancer than someone who has never smoked.
What Can You Do About It?
The good news is that giving up smoking can reduce your risk of bladder cancer and other health problems. The sooner you give up, the better. However, even if you’ve been smoking for a long time, giving up now can still be good for your health. Ex-smokers can be up to 80% less likely to get bladder cancer than those who are still smoking (although they are still at higher risk than people who have never smoked).
If you need help quitting smoking then you should see your GP. You’ll get advice on giving up, nicotine replacements and where to find support. Reducing the amount you smoke or giving up completely can make a big difference to your health. It can reduce the risk of bladder cancer, lung cancer and other health problems linked to smoking.