In 1965, Congress passed a law requiring that cigarette packaging distributed within the United States carry a warning that cigarettes are bad for your health. That warning states that “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy.”
Over the years, we have heard testimonials and seen evidence that smoking – including all tobacco and the carcinogenic materials that comprise cigarettes – are extremely toxic. Smoking not only was eventually banned in many public spaces, but secondhand smoke became a legitimate health concern in addition to what we already know about smoking.
Nonsmokers and smokers alike know that cigarettes can destroy your lungs and heart. In fact, cigarette use contributes to nearly 80% of all lung cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.
Connection Between Bladder Cancer and Smoking
We know that smoking can age your skin, cause esophageal cancer, and destroy your teeth. But did you know that research has shown a striking correlation between cigarette smoking and bladder cancer?
The connection between bladder cancer and cigarette smoking has to do more with what happens after that deep inhale than during it, and is yet another reason to stop smoking or never start in the first place.
Smoking as a Lifestyle
Smokers crave a good puff or deep drag on a cigarette; for many, a cigarette with their morning coffee or at certain times of the day has become part of a long-standing daily routine. The smoke enters through the mouth, down the throat, and into the lungs. Then, seemingly logically, the smoke itself leaves the body though exhalation.
So it’s true: The smoke does leave the body nearly the same way it entered. But what about the toxins and carcinogens that are left behind? If they don’t leave your body, where do they go?
The answer may surprise you.
Effects of Smoking on the Bladder
Surprisingly, the toxins and carcinogens from cigarettes that aren’t exhaled remain in the body, but not all of it stays in the lungs – rather, they largely accumulate in the urinary tract.
Your body then processes these dangerous chemicals the same way it would with food, drink, or normal cellular waste – through the urinary tract – until it’s time to purge the waste via urination. Until they are expelled, these chemicals can remain in your body for a long time, where their impact can be seen anywhere in the urinary tract, but especially in the bladder.
In fact, tobacco users are three times as likely to develop bladder cancer as those who do not smoke.
Smoking Creates a Dangerous Exposure
If you smoke, you’re exposing yourself, your loved ones, or your unborn child to the chemicals that comprise cigarettes. You certainly wouldn’t think of inhaling or ingesting poisonous chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde, lead, or ammonia as part of your daily routine, but that is exactly what you are doing each time you light up.
Exposure to these contaminants in the urine leaves the bladder compromised to very high concentrations of dangerous residue that cigarette smoke leaves behind. The result? An alarmingly high rate of bladder cancer in people who smoke.
Is Any Type of Smoking Safe?
Although they’re touted as safer alternatives to regular cigarettes, e-cigs, vaping, snuff, and cigars are also processed in our bodies the same way as cigarettes. This means that we are still compromising our urinary health and our overall health.
Vaping and e-cigarettes contain nicotine and other chemicals like formaldehyde which, like cigarettes, are excreted in the urine and increase the risk of cancer. Cigars have high concentrations of nitrates and nitrites and, because cigars contain aged or fermented tobacco, they give off TSNAs – tobacco-specific nitrosamines – which are considered some of the most potent cancer-causing substances known to man. Pipe smoking also gives off TSNAs.
Meanwhile, snuff, also known as chew or smokeless tobacco, is likewise taken directly into the body and is absorbed through the mouth. It’s also too often swallowed, which often manifests in a variety of cancers, including bladder cancer.
Signs of Bladder Cancer
If you smoke, vape, or chew (or even if you don’t), and you notice the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
- Blood in your urine
- Frequent and painful bladder infections
- Frequent, painful, or burning sensations while urinating
Experienced Urologist in Phoenix
If you smoke now or were ever a smoker and are presenting symptoms of bladder cancer, see your urologist right away. The earlier the cancer is detected, the better your chances are for a positive resolution.
Here at Ironwood Urology, our goal is to provide the best healthcare and treatment to patients with a variety of urological problems, including bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney stones, BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate), and urinary incontinence.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Avila, contact us today by calling us at (480) 961-2323 or fill out our online appointment request form now. We look forward to helping you live the active, healthy lifestyle you enjoy.