The actual cause of bladder cancer is not known. However, there are a number of factors that increases the risks. Generally, these factors may include physiological traits, medical conditions and other external causes.
Physiological Risk Factors
Physiological factors that increase a person’s risk for bladder cancer include:
- Age. Risk factors increase as a person ages. It is rarely diagnosed in people under 40.
- Gender. Men are up to four times likely to develop bladder cancer than women.
- Race. White people are more likely to develop bladder cancer in the U.S. than Hispanics or African-Americans. Races with the lowest diagnoses of bladder cancer include Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and Asians.
- Family or personal history. A person is more at risk for developing bladder cancer if an immediate relative also has a history of the disease. Still, it is rare for bladder cancer to occur generationally. Additionally, a person is at risk if he or she had bladder cancer in the past.
Medical conditions such as cystitis, a chronic bladder infection, and schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, can increase a person’s risk of developing bladder cancer. Additionally, previous chemotherapy or radiation treatment for ovarian or endometrial cancer can increase the risk, as well.
Repeated bladder infections, or inflammations, exposes a person to greater risk of getting bladder cancer. The long-term use of a catheter may contribute to this risk. Rarely found in North America, schistosomiasis, is linked to bladder cancer.
Other Risk Factors
Other risk factors for developing bladder cancer include:
- Smoking. Cigarettes, pipes or cigars can increase a person’s risk of bladder cancer. The harmful chemicals in these products are inhaled and can accumulate in the urine. Smoking can also damage the lining of the bladder, increasing susceptibility to bladder cancer.
- Toxic Chemicals. Exposure to chemicals often found in paints, textiles, inks, and dyes increases a person’s risk. This type of exposure may occur in a manufacturing plant, or other industrial settings. The level, type of chemical, and frequency of exposure plays a significant role. The kidneys filter harmful chemicals from the bloodstream into a person’s bladder. Over-exposure increases the risks. The risk is higher for smokers exposed to these chemicals.
- Diet. Eating excessive amounts of foods that are high in nitrates and fat may also increase a person’s risk for bladder cancer.
This is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal or medical advice.