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Drinking fluids reduces bladder cancer risk, study finds

What is bladder cancer?

This form of cancer affects the bladder, a hollow organ in the lower part of the abdomen where urine is stored. Urine enters the bladder from the kidneys through two tubes called ureters; it leaves the bladder and exits the body during urination through another tube called the urethra.

What are the symptoms of bladder cancer?

Symptoms may include blood in the urine, pain when you urinate, passing urine often or feeling like you need to urinate but nothing comes out.

How is bladder cancer diagnosed?

Lab tests may be done on your urine. Your doctor may do an internal examination through the vagina and/or rectum. A special x-ray called an intravenous pyelogram (IVP) may be done, in which a special dye is used to make the bladder easier to examine on x-rays. Your doctor may also use a cystoscope, a thin lighted tube, to look directly into the bladder, by inserting it through the urethra. A biopsy may be done if abnormal tissue is found.

How is bladder cancer treated?

Surgery is the most common treatment. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy and biological therapy may also be used. In addition, a new type of treatment called photodynamic therapy is being tested in clinical trials.

Source: The National Cancer Institute

May 5, 1999
Web posted at: 5:03 p.m. EDT (2103 GMT)

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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New England Journal of Medicine
Harvard School of Public Health
The National Cancer Institute
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