(NaturalNews) Smoking strongly increases a person's risk of developing bladder cancer - a risk that the majority of the population seems to be unaware of, according to a new analysis conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"The general public understands that cigarette smoking can lead to lung cancer, but very few people understand that it also can lead to bladder cancer," study co-author James E. Montie said.
The researchers compiled data from all studies in the MEDLINE database that had been conducted on the connection between bladder cancer and smoking between 1975 and 2007. The correlation between smoking behavior and bladder cancer risk, they found, was strong. For example, one study found that a person's risk of developing bladder cancer goes down by 40 percent within the first four years of quitting smoking.
Yet the general population remains unaware of this connection, the researchers also found, as are patients who have been diagnosed with bladder cancer. Only 22 percent of bladder cancer patients surveyed knew that smoking increases the risk of developing the disease.
"A big gap exists between patient knowledge and their actual risk," co-author Seth A. Strope said. "Our study suggests that physicians must do a much better job of communicating the risk to our patients, and directing them toward smoking cessation programs."
Bladder cancer is one of the most expensive forms of cancer to treat. In the United States, it is the fourth most common cancer in men in the ninth most common in women, with more than 47,000 new cases diagnosed in men and 16,000 in women each year. The higher prevalence in men is believed to be due to the fact that male sex hormones play a role in the development of the disease.
Other than smoking, risk factors include being African-American or Hispanic and having a family history of the cancer. Exposure to secondhand smoke is also a suspected risk factor.
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