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Smoking increases bladder-cancer risk even more than suspected

August 16, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Smoking increases the risk of bladder cancer by up to fourfold.
Smoking increases the risk of bladder cancer by up to fourfold. (Daniel Munoz / Reuters )

Smoking is known to raise the risk of bladder cancer, but a new study shows the link is much stronger than first thought, possible because cigarettes today are even more toxic than before.

Studies undertaken from 1963 to 1987 estimated that current smoking increased the risk of bladder cancer by almost threefold. The new research examined data from more than 467,000 people who were followed from 1995 to 2006. Bladder cancer was diagnosed in 3,896 men and 627 women.

Compared with people who had never smoked, former smokers had a 2.2 times increased risk of bladder cancer and current smokers had about a fourfold higher risk.

The constituents of cigarette smoke have changed, including an increase in the concentration of a chemical called beta-napthylamine, which is known to cause bladder cancer. While the rates of bladder cancer have remained stable over the past four decades, a decrease in smoking rates may be offset by more dangerous chemicals in cigarettes, the authors said.

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

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