But a new study shows the risk is much higher than previously thought – and women face the same level of risk as men.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed data from more than 450,000 people in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.
Perhaps the most notable finding is that smoking accounts for about 50 percent of bladder cancer cases among women. Previous studies said only 20 to 30 percent of cases were caused by smoking.
One reason why the risk is so much higher may be “due to changes in cigarette composition or smoking habits over the years,” said study author Dr. Neal Freedman in a NIH news release. Friedman works in the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.
While the amount of tar and nicotine in cigarette smoke has decreased, there’s been an increase “in the concentrations of certain carcinogens associated with bladder cancer,” according to the news release.
The new study also shows that former smokers are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer when compared to people who have never smoked. Current smokers are four times as likely.
But quitting smoking reduces the risk of getting bladder cancer. Those who were smoke-free for at least 10 years had a lower incidence of bladder cancer compared to people who quit for small periods of time or who still smoked.
Roughly 20 percent of adult Americans smoke, according to federal statistics.
More than 69,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year. Nearly 15,000 people will die from the disease.
Source: National Institutes of Health
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