Bladder cancer risk higher for women smokers

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 21 April 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:948
  1. Xavier Bosch
  1. Barcelona

    Women who are exposed to cigarette smoke are not only at higher risk of developing lung cancer than men, but they may also be at greater risk of bladder cancer, an American study shows.

    “When smoking habits are compared, women may be at higher risk of bladder cancer than men,” says Jose Esteban Castelao, a researcher at the Norris Cancer Center, University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and author of the report. Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the United States. Cigarette smoking and occupational exposure to arylamines, an important constituent of tobacco smoke, are the most likely risk factors.

    The researchers in Los Angeles studied 1514 patients with histologically confirmed bladder cancer diagnosed between 1987 and 1996. They also looked at 1514 healthy control subjects who matched the case patient by sex, date of birth, race, and neighbourhood.

    The risk of bladder cancer in female smokers was significantly higher than that in men who smoked comparable number of cigarettes. In most categories of smoking, the risks for women were higher than those for men, and in the heaviest smoking category the relative risk of women developing bladder cancer was more than twice that in men (11.49 v 5.23). Within each smoking level, the mean values of the arylamines, 3-ABP and 4-ABP, were higher in women than in men (J Natl Cancer Inst 2001;93:538-45).

    “Our results add one more piece of evidence to a possible higher susceptibility of women to smoking related cancers,” said Castelao. “We have observed gender differences at the cellular level that suggest that women somehow either activate or detoxify tobacco carried chemicals differently than men do.”

    View Abstract

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