Among men and women who smoke a comparable number of cigarettes daily, the female smokers have a significantly higher risk of bladder cancer than the male smokers, according to the results of a study recently published in the

Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Bladder cancer is a common cancer, with approximately 55,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Unfortunately, most bladder cancers are not diagnosed until the cancer has reached advanced stages and is more difficult to treat. There are currently no effective screening procedures for detecting bladder cancer early before symptoms are present; therefore, it is critical that researchers continue to investigate any factors that may lead to the development of this disease in order to help prevent its occurrence.

Smoking has long been linked to bladder cancer, but few studies have investigated the differences in risks between genders. Researchers recently conducted a population-based, case-control study in Los Angeles, CA. The study involved 1,514 patients with bladder cancer and 1,514 individually matched control subjects. The researchers performed interviews in order to gather information regarding tobacco use. In addition, the subjects provided blood samples so that researchers could measure levels of 3- and 4-aminobiphenyl(ABP)-hemoglobin adducts, a marker of arylamine exposure. Arylamines are found in cigarette smoke and are believed to be a factor in smoking-induced bladder cancer.

As in several previous studies, the results indicated that smokers are 2.5 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-smokers. Furthermore, the results of this study indicated that female smokers are at a significantly increased risk for bladder cancer when compared with male smokers. In addition, when comparable numbers of cigarettes were smoked, female smokers had higher levels of 3- and 4-ABP-hemoglobin adducts than male smokers. This is a significant observation because ABPs may play a major role in the development of smoking-induced bladder cancer.

More research is needed to further define the relationship between smoking and bladder cancer; however, the results of this study indicate that women who smoke or have smoked may wish to undergo more frequent screening or stop smoking. Women concerned with screening for this disease or who may be interested in smoking cessation programs can consult with their physicians for more information. (

Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol 93, No. 7, pp. 538-545, 2001)

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