Crucial Facts on Bladder Cancer: Supplements and Lifestyle

By: Mark A. Moyad, MD, MPH | Posted on: 22 Nov 2017

Crucial Facts on Supplements and Lifestyle when it comes to Bladder Cancer

This year it's predicted there will be nearly 80,000 new cases of Bladder Cancer diagnosed in America. With November being Bladder Health Awareness Month, it's a great time to brush up on some facts about this condition. When it comes to supplements and lifestyle changes, there are definitely a few things worth pointing out.

Probiotics are touted for so many medical conditions- digestive health, colds, weight loss, autoimmune disorders, etc. But did you know one of the strongest areas of preliminary clinical research with probiotics in medicine is for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (during and after normal treatments)? The product Lactobacillus casei shirota has been tested in several clinical trials. This probiotic is only found in the drink known as "yakult" so you do not need to take a costly pill. Other Lactobacillus probiotics are also being tested currently in studies.

If you've been diagnosed with bladder cancer, you should have a talk with your doctor about including probiotics in your treatment routine. I've noticed that there tends to be a lack of discussions between health care professionals who treat bladder cancer and patients regarding the potential benefit of this specific probiotic. No other supplement has anywhere near the data that this probiotic has for this condition. 

When it comes to non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, certain probiotics appear to improve the body's immune response to bladder tumors. Probiotics may activate so-called natural killer cells within the immune system and induce cancer cell death. It's vital to discuss probiotics with your doctor!

Lifestyle Changes and Risk Factors

A simple fact to remember is that heart healthy equals bladder healthy! Some factors associated with an increased risk of heart disease are also linked to a higher risk of bladder cancer. Smoking and tobacco use are two lifestyle factors that fall into this category. It's important to stop smoking, and stop using tobacco in order to reduce your risk.

And, it is too early to know whether or not marijuana use impacts bladder cancer risk but some recent preliminary evidence suggests that heavy use could increase the risk of certain medical conditions such as lung disease and testicular cancer. Again, this is very preliminary research that needs much more attention to separate fact from fiction.

Besides tobacco use, other risk factors for bladder cancer include:

  • Family history of bladder cancer.
  • Previous pelvic radiation to the bladder.
  • History of inflammation of the bladder.
  • Consuming contaminated drinking water.
  • Occupational exposure to chemicals (An example of a potentially harmful chemical is synthetic dyes used in the manufacturing industry).

Other factors, such as weight gain, have not been linked to bladder cancer, but controlling your weight and adopting heart-healthy habits is very important for your overall health. I recommend eating a healthy diet and maintaining a normal cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

About the Author

Mark Moyad, MD, MPH is on the Urology Care Foundation Public Education Council and Director of Preventive & Alternative Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center (Department of Urology). He is also author of The Supplement Handbook: A Trusted Expert's Guide to What Works and What's Worthless for More Than 100 Conditions.

 

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