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Smoking Associated with Increased Rates of Death from Urological Cancer

Smoking can lead to an increased risk of urological cancer, with indicators of prolonged or more intense smoking associated with a higher risk for bladder and kidney cancer-related deaths, according to new research by investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian. 

Using data on more than 490,000 people collected between 1993 and 2005 through the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, the new study, published online on July 10 in the Journal of Urology, shows a higher risk of overall deaths between those who smoked versus non-smokers. Zeroing in further, 62, 58 and 62% of those surveyed who died from bladder, kidney and prostate cancers, respectively, were smokers at some point in their lives.

“About half the states in this country have laws prohibiting smoking in bars or restaurants; many don’t have any laws banning smoking inside,” said Dr. Douglas Scherr, senior author of the study, a professor of urology and clinical director of urologic oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine and a urologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “It highlights the need for more widespread laws that target indoor smoking.”

Measures of smoking intensity included records of whether subjects had started smoking as teens as well as whether they had smoked at home.

Dr. Scherr pinpointed the need for a better understanding of the increased risk for teenage smokers — those who started as a teen experienced a three-fold increase of death tied to bladder cancer. Even people who eventually quit had an increased risk of dying from urological cancers.

“At the end of the day, prevention carries the greatest benefit for patients,” Dr. Scherr said. “Anyone I talk to seems to be unaware of the relationship between bladder cancer, for example, and smoking. That’s why this awareness is important.”