November 17th is the Great American Smokeout, a day set aside to encourage smokers to quit or at least start a plan to kick the habit. Need another reason to stop smoking? Well, there’s a reason cigarettes are also called “cancer sticks;” not only is smoking linked to emphysema, heart disease, breast and of course, lung cancer, new research shows that it increases the risk of bladder cancer even more than previously known.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the lifestyles of almost 500,000 people, including their smoking habits, over an 11-year span. Of these people, 3,896 men and 627 women developed bladder cancer during follow-up.
What’s more, former smokers were two times more likely to get bladder cancer than those who never smoked. And people who still smoked were four times more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who never smoked.
Past or current smoking habits contributed to half of the bladder cancer risk men faced and a little more than half of the risk seen among women.
The culprit, say scientists, is a potential carcinogen called beta-naphtyhlamine [naf-thil-uh-mean], which was added to replace tar and nicotine in cigarettes but has been shown to increase bladder cancer risk.
Men and those who work as painters or truck drivers are especially susceptible to bladder cancer. But the good news is you can lower your risk by quitting smoking… and the sooner, the better.
So how do you kick the habit? The key is to designate a quit day and make a plan beforehand. Try to avoid stress, take note of your triggers and when, where and with whom you smoke. Plan alternatives to lighting up, like going for a walk, sipping tea or reading a book instead to keep your hands occupied. Tape notecards around your house and workplace with reasons for quitting… like keeping your bladder healthy.