Smoking and Bladder Cancer

Smoking is a cause of bladder cancer.1 Read more about bladder cancer...


The risk of bladder cancer increases with the number of years a person has smoked and with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.2

Twenty-five percent of people diagnosed with bladder cancer are expected to die within 5 years of being diagnosed.3

In 2007, there were 1,798 deaths from bladder cancer in Canada.4 Research has shown that in 2002, about 60% of bladder cancer deaths were due to smoking.5

These health warning messages address bladder cancer for cigarettes and little cigars:

Blood in the toilet due to bladder cancer
Blood in the toilet due to bladder cancer

What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the bladder leading to the formation of a tumour.

Over time, the tumour may penetrate the bladder lining and invade the surrounding muscle layers.

Symptoms include the appearance of blood in the urine and more frequent and painful urination.

Tumours caught at an early stage can be treated with surgery or chemotherapy. Advanced cases of bladder cancer may require the removal of the bladder, with an external drainage bag or internal reservoir to aid in urination.

How does smoking increase the risk of bladder cancer?

Some of the chemicals contained in tobacco smoke cause, initiate or promote cancer.6,7 These chemicals cause genetic changes in cells of the bladder which can lead to the development of bladder cancer.

These chemicals or their metabolites are passed along the urinary tract and are stored in the bladder prior to urination. Over time, they may damage the lining of the bladder, leading to cancer.2

The benefits of quitting

When people stop smoking, the risk of bladder cancer starts to decrease. Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of developing bladder cancer drops by about half.2

Quitting is more effective than other measures to avoid the development of bladder cancer and other smoking-related diseases.

Need help to quit? Call the pan-Canadian quitline toll-free at 1-866-366-3667.


1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2004. Ch.2, p.166-67. Available from:

2. Brennan P, Bogillot O, Cordier S et al. Cigarette Smoking and Bladder Cancer in Men: A Pooled Analysis of 11 Case-Control Studies. Int J Cancer. 2000;86: 289-294.

3. Canadian Cancer Society's Steering Committee: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011. Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society, 2011.

4. Statistics Canada. Table 102-0552 - Deaths and mortality rate, by selected grouped causes and sex, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (2007), CANSIM (database). 2011 [updated 2010 Nov 15; cited 2011 Mar 15]. Available from:

5. Rehm J, Baliunas D, Brochu S, Fischer B, Gnam W, Patra J, et al. The costs of substance abuse in Canada 2002. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse; 2006

6. Rodgman, A., Perfetti, T.A. The chemical components of tobacco and tobacco smoke. (2009). CRC press, Florida, USA. ISBN 978-1-4200-7883-1.

7. Hecht SS. Research Opportunities Related to Establishing Standards for Tobacco Products Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Nicotine & Tobacco Research [] Commentary [accepted November 25, 2010]. Web Published 2011 January;10.1093/ntr/ntq216. Available from:

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