Drinking fluids reduces bladder cancer risk, study finds
May 5, 1999
From Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen
BOSTON (CNN) -- Men who drink a large amount of fluid reduce their risk of getting bladder cancer by half, according to a new study at the Harvard School of Public Health.
"This is the simplest form of cancer prevention I've ever heard of," said Peter Ross, a biochemist at the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, and co-author of an editorial in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.
Scientists are unsure why fluids may prevent bladder cancer, but doctors have a theory.
"It seems they wash out the carcinogens ... so the carcinogens are less likely to come in contact with the wall of the bladder," said Dominique Michaud, lead author of the paper.
The researchers followed 47,909 men for 10 years. They found that those who drank more than 10 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day had half the bladder cancer risk of men who drank fewer than six glasses a day.
An estimated 54,500 new cases of bladder cancer are diagnosed every year. Of those, 39,500 are among men, making it the fourth leading type of cancer among men.
Until now, the only firmly established risk factors for bladder cancer were cigarette smoking and exposure to certain chemicals, according to the editorial.
In the new study, water seemed to work better than other fluids, although even coffee and alcoholic beverages may have a positive effect, Michaud said.
But because of possible harmful effects of coffee and alcohol, and because juices can be high in calories, "we want the public health message to be that if you want to increase your fluid intake, drink more water," Michaud said.
Other researchers are looking to see if there is a link between fluid intake and prevention of colon cancer, she said.
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