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Fruit and Vegetable Intake Linked to Lower Bladder Cancer Risk

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

New studies show that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of bladder cancer in women. One study carried out recently by the University of Hawaii Cancer Center concluded that consuming more fruits and vegetables effectively lowered the risk of bladder cancer in women – worth noting, though, is the fact that no similar decrease in risk was found in men.

Researchers conducted this study to evaluate the relationship among lifestyle, genetic, and dietary factors and cancer risk. Data was collected from over 185,000 adults over a 12.5-year period. Among this group, 581 cases of invasive bladder cancer were diagnosed during the study, with almost three times as many men as women being diagnosed.

After adjustments were made to account for variables that would be related to cancer risk, such as age, researchers concluded that the lowest bladder cancer risk was found in women who consumed the most fruits and vegetables. Specifically, the highest consumption of yellow-orange vegetables and the highest intake of vitamins A, C, and E were the most closely related to lower cancer risk.

Another study had less favorable results, finding little difference in bladder cancer risk among women who consumed more fruits and vegetables, but even this one did find that consuming more cruciferous vegetables was related to a lower risk of bladder cancer. All cruciferous vegetables were found to be beneficial, but broccoli and cabbage in particular were related to a significant decrease in bladder cancer risk.

The findings are not surprising, as researchers have long believed that a healthy diet containing many fruits and vegetables lowers cancer risk. The studies do further solidify this belief, however, although more research is needed to understand the reasons why the benefit of lower cancer risk when consuming larger amounts of fruits and vegetables was found only in women.

In most cases of cancer it is impossible to identify a specific cause, so it only makes sense to do everything you can to prevent cancer from occurring. Eating more vegetables is easy and inexpensive, might help, and definitely won’t hurt. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also known to promote overall health and prevent other types of cancer as well.

Signs of Bladder Cancer

Blood in the urine is typically the first sign of bladder cancer. There may be enough blood to change the urine’s color, so if you notice that yours is pink, pale yellow-red, or even darker red, be sure and see a doctor. Often the amount of blood present is small enough that it is only found during urinalysis.

There is usually no pain associated with early bladder cancer, so even if you feel fine, get red- or pink-tinted urine checked by a doctor – even if it is clear the next day. Bladder cancer may also cause more frequent urination, pain or burning during urination, or feeling an urgent need to urinate even when the bladder is empty. Lower back pain is another possible symptom; so is inability to urinate even when the bladder is full.

All of these symptoms can also be signs of less serious diseases, such as non-cancerous tumors, infection, or kidney stones. However, they should all be checked out to rule out cancer and treat the condition that does exist. Bladder cancer, like other cancers, has a much more favorable prognosis when caught early, so don’t hesitate to see a doctor should you notice any of its signs.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.