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05:01 PM ET 05/05/99
Drinking Helps Cut Bladder Cancer
Drinking Helps Cut Bladder Cancer
By KATHARINE WEBSTER=
Associated Press Writer=
Drink more water, or coffee, milk, soda, fruit juice, and beer,
and you can lower your risk of bladder cancer, a study found.
American men who drank at least 11 8-ounce glasses a day of all
liquids cut their risk of two common types of bladder cancer in
half, compared with men who drank five glasses or less, the study
Water had an independent protective effect. Men who drank at
least six glasses of water a day cut their risk of bladder cancer
in half, compared with men who had less than one glass, regardless
of how much they drank in total liquids.
Bladder cancer strikes an estimated 310,000 people worldwide
each year and is the fourth most common cancer among American men.
Smokers are more susceptible than non-smokers, and it afflicts four
times as many men as women _ possibly because few women smoked
until recently, and the lag time from when a person starts to smoke
to when the cancer shows up can be 40 years or more.
The study in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine is the
first to demonstrate a clear link between increased liquid intake
and decreased bladder cancer of the two types most commonly found
in developed countries: papillary and flat transitional cell
The study did not look at a third type, squamous cell carcinoma,
which usually is associated with schistosomiasis, a water-borne
parasitic disease common in Africa and parts of the Middle East.
No one is certain why drinking more liquids helps prevent the
transitional cell cancers. But some researchers believe the bladder
lining suffers less exposure to cancer-causing substances in urine
when the urine is diluted and urination is more frequent.
Smoking greatly increases the quantity of carcinogens in urine,
and this study, like previous research, found that the risk of
bladder cancer was nearly four times higher among heavy smokers
than it was among non-smokers.
Quitting smoking is the best way to cut your cancer risk,
according to the study's lead author, Dominique Michaud, a research
fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. But smokers who
can't or won't quit can still cut their cancer risk substantially
by drinking more, she said.
The study looked at the eating, drinking, exercise and smoking
habits of 47,909 American men from 1986 to early 1996. A similar
large-scale study of women does not include enough cases of bladder
cancer yet to yield statistically significant results, Michaud
In the men's study, 252 developed bladder cancer. The risk
increased with age and was higher in the Northeast than in the
Besides water, none of the other beverages had an independent
beneficial or harmful effect. Although previous, smaller studies
had suggested drinking large quantities of coffee or alcohol might
be harmful, this study found no increased bladder cancer risk.
Peter Jones, director of the University of Southern California's
Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in an accompanying
editorial that the study was not sensitive enough to answer
questions about whether water quality _ especially chlorination _
play a role in cancer risk.
``The quality of what you drink may ... be as important as how
much (or little) you imbibe,'' he wrote.
Ed. note: We agree. See info on Water Distillation.