Prevention of Bladder Cancer
Are you aware that malignancy of urinary bladder claimed approximately 16,000 lives in the year 2014? This corresponds to approximately 2.5% of all cancer related deaths in the United States (1). Bladder malignancy is the result of abnormal growth and metabolism of transitional cells within the lining of urinary bladder. It has been estimated that approximately 75,000 new cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed in the year 2014 (which comprises of 4.5% of all the new cancer that were diagnosed in that year). Fortunately, due to advancements in the field of science and technology, the mortality rate due to bladder cancer is fairly low in United States; however, the malignancy itself affects the quality of life by interfering with the health and overall wellness.
Risk Factors that May Lead to Bladder Cancer
Due to chronic exposure to toxins and environmental irritants, the risk of malignant transformation of cells increases significantly. Following are some risk factors that may further aggravate your risk of developing bladder malignancy.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoke contains over 200 carcinogens that are capable of stimulating abnormal carcinogenesis in the bladder. Cigarette toxins can also cause irritation and inflammation of the lining cells; thereby increasing the risk of malignant transformation of cells (3).
- Age: Most cases are reported in individuals over the age of 40 years. With advancing age, human immune defenses are significantly compromised, which may lead to uncontrolled cellular growth and resulting deficits.
- Gender: Men are more prone to develop malignancy of bladder as compared to women.
- Prolonged Exposure to Unwanted Hazardous Chemicals: Toxic substances are supposed to be filtered out by kidney. Sometimes these toxic substances tend to accumulate in the bladder. Besides dietary toxins, exposure to industrial and environmental toxins can also aggravate the risk of bladder malignancy (such as coal mining, benzene exposure etc.)
- Previous Infection: Patients who are receiving the treatment for another malignant lesion (such as kidneys) are also at higher risk of developing cancer of bladder.
- Chronic Use of Medication: Certain medications and pharmacological preparations can also increase the risk; these include hypoglycemic agents like pioglitazone, cyclophosphamide and aromatic amines (to list a few)
- Inflammation: Chronic history of urinary tract infections such as cystitis (with parasitic agents like schistosoma haematobium) can also lead to squamous cell carcinoma.
How to Prevent Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer can be prevented by incorporating healthy lifestyle changes. For example:
Eat More Vegetables:
Fresh vegetables are very beneficial for the maintenance of optimal health. Fresh organic vegetables are rich in high quality fiber and naturally occurring flavonoids, antioxidants and pigments that are known to ward off free radicals and minimize the risk of malignancy.
According to a new study reported in the peer reviewed British Journal of Cancer (4), investigators suggested that Vitamin B1 and other micronutrients (that are richly supplied by organic vegetables) are protective against bladder cancer and other types of malignant lesions. Study also suggested that individual who consume large amounts of processed meat are at much higher risk of developing bladder cancer (4)
Limit Exposure to Toxins:
Exposure to irritants or chemicals (such as industrial wastes or insecticides and pesticides) are known to cause bladder malignancy. For best results, it is highly recommended to limit the exposure to chemicals by relying on organic dietary sources. Additionally, develop a habit of properly washing your fruits/ veggies before consumption.
Maintain Normal Insulin Levels:
Impaired immune defenses due to chronic metabolic or medical illnesses can significantly increase the risk of malignant transformation of cells. Latest research indicates that chronic, uncontrolled diabetes can significantly aggravates the risk of bladder malignancy and other cancer. More importantly, certain hypoglycemic drugs like pioglitazone are very strongly associated with an aggravated risk of bladder cancer, according to a new study reported in Diabetes Care (5).
Supplements to Prevent Bladder Cancer:
It is imperative to understand that a great degree of care and caution is needed while using supplements or micronutrient agents like selenium for the prevention of bladder cancer. Experts believe that the maximum effective dose of selenium is 150-300 mcg/ day. Exceeding this dose can increase the risk of systemic dysfunction and may aggravate the risk of developing diabetes.
Likewise, other antioxidants and nutritional supplements like Vitamin E and C are also advised to minimize the risk of recurrence of bladder and other cancers. Extensive clinical and laboratory research indicates that Vitamin E supplementation can inhibit the abnormal migration of cancerous cells.
Other preventive tips are:
- Exercise: Scientific research proves that exercise is very effective in minimizing the risk of bladder malignancies as well as other medical and metabolic conditions that aggravates the risk of malignant transformation of cells.
- Poach steam and boil your food properly. Make sure your food is cooked properly.
- Amend your Vitamin D levels: Role of vitamin D is integral in the prevention of bladder malignancies. Besides increasing your overall exposure to sunlight, adopt healthy nutritional sources and supplements to maintain steady vitamin D levels in your body.
- Maintain your body weight under recommended limits
- Consumption of omega 3 fats is very helpful in the prevention of bladder cancers.
- Burger, M., Catto, J. W., Dalbagni, G., Grossman, H. B., Herr, H., Karakiewicz, P., … & Lotan, Y. (2013). Epidemiology and risk factors of urothelial bladder cancer. European urology, 63(2), 234-241..
- 3. Freedman, N. D., Silverman, D. T., Hollenbeck, A. R., Schatzkin, A., & Abnet, C. C. (2011). Association between smoking and risk of bladder cancer among men and women. JAMA: the journal of the American Medical Association, 306(7), 737.
- Wu, J. W., Cross, A. J., Baris, D., Ward, M. H., Karagas, M. R., Johnson, A., … & Sinha, R. (2012). Dietary intake of meat, fruits, vegetables, and selective micronutrients and risk of bladder cancer in the New England region of the United States. British journal of cancer, 106(11), 1891-1898.
- Piccinni, C., Motola, D., Marchesini, G., & Poluzzi, E. (2011). Assessing the association of pioglitazone use and bladder cancer through drug adverse event reporting. Diabetes care, 34(6), 1369-1371.