Myths About Tobacco-Related (Bladder) Cancer Go Up in Smoke

Smoking Bladder Cancer RiskMany people think that cigarette smoking causes only lung cancer. If you are one of them, think again.

A study published just this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that risk of developing bladder cancer – for men and women – is higher among smokers than previously believed.

Doctors such as Dr. Viraj Master, associate professor of urology, Emory School of Medicine and director of clinical urology research at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, see patients every week whose cancers likely were caused by smoking.

“Patients are often surprised to hear of the link between smoking and bladder cancer, but it’s there and it’s real,” says Dr. Master. “Smoking’s effects on the body are both pervasive and lethal.”

How could it be that cigarette smoke gets into your bladder? As it turns out, the actual smoke does not, but the carcinogens in tobacco smoke do get into your blood stream and thus into other parts of your body. The study, authored by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, suggests that an apparent increase in the concentration of carcinogens has occurred in the past 50 years, even as tar and nicotine concentrations have been reduced.

Other cancers caused from smoking include: throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia. If you or a loved one would like help to quit smoking, you can call the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 877-270-STOP (7867).

Also, if you are a heavy smoker between 55 and 74, you may be interested in having a CT screening of your lungs. Emory University Hospital began offering such scans in early August. A study published this summer in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that low-dose spiral CT scans of heavy smokers aged 55 to 74 reduced mortality by 20 percent. People who are screened need to be aware that false positives may occur and that further testing may be required.

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