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Reviewed 8/3/2023

Bladder cancer: True or false?

Your bladder is a hollow, balloon-shaped organ that sits in the lower part of your abdomen. There is one main type of bladder cancer—called transitional cell carcinoma—although rare types can develop. Take this quiz to learn more about transitional cell carcinoma.

True or false: Experts know what causes bladder cancer.

False. Although researchers don't know exactly what causes bladder cancer, some things can increase your risk of developing it. These risk factors include smoking, exposure to certain chemicals, older age and family history.

True or false: Smoking is the biggest risk factor for bladder cancer.

True. Smokers are at least three time more likely to get bladder cancer than nonsmokers. In fact, it's estimated that smoking is responsible for half of all bladder cancer cases in the U.S.

True or false: You're at increased risk for bladder cancer if people in your family have it.

True. This can be true for several reasons. For example, it's possible that multiple family members were all exposed to the same cancer-causing chemical. Or you may share genetic changes that put you at higher risk for developing bladder cancer.

True or false: Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin cause bladder cancer in humans.

False. Fears about artificial sweeteners causing bladder cancer in humans arose after early studies in laboratory rats suggested there was a link. However, additional studies found no clear evidence of an association between artificial sweeteners and cancer in humans.

True or false: Regularly drinking water might lower your risk for bladder cancer.

True. People who drink a lot of fluids every day have a lower rate of bladder cancer. This may be because drinking fluids—particularly water—makes you urinate more frequently. That keeps potentially dangerous chemicals from building up in your bladder.

Some occupations may carry a higher risk for bladder cancer because of the chemicals related to the job. These include hairdressers, machinists, printers, painters and truck drivers. If you work at one of these jobs, ask your doctor what steps you can take to protect yourself.

Find more bladder cancer facts

Sources: American Cancer Society; National Cancer Institute

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