Mechanisms of disease: The epidemiology of bladder cancer

Nat Clin Pract Urol. 2006 Jun;3(6):327-40. doi: 10.1038/ncpuro0510.


Mortality from bladder cancer has shown downward trends over the last 2 decades in several western European countries (albeit 10-15 years later than similar trends in the US), but is still increasing in some eastern European countries. Tobacco smoking and occupational exposure to aromatic amines are the two major established environmental risk factors for bladder cancer. Controlling exposure to these factors has been an important contributor to the reduction in bladder cancer mortality, particularly among men. Diet could influence bladder carcinogenesis, as many compounds contained in foods--and their metabolites--are excreted through the urinary tract. Fruit and vegetable consumption was inversely related with bladder cancer in many studies, but no consistent association has emerged between intake of related micronutrients and reduced risk of bladder cancer. Other widely investigated lifestyle habits are probably not associated with risk of developing bladder cancer (e.g. coffee consumption, artificial sweetener use, hair dyes) or are difficult to assess (e.g. fluid intake). Infections and stones in the urinary tract might cause chronic irritation of the bladder epithelium, and thus increase bladder cancer risk. First-degree relatives of bladder cancer patients have a 50-100% increased relative risk of developing the disease, a risk that could be even higher when the proband is diagnosed at an early age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Urinary Calculi / complications*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / complications*