Are drinking alcohol and bladder cancer risk connected?
I. Alcohol Not a Risk
II. Research Evidence
IV. Alcohol May Reduce Risk
V. Popular Resources
VI. Scientific Readings
I. Alcohol Not a Risk Factor
The consensus of scientific medical opinion is that alcohol does not increase the risk for bladder cancer. To the contrary, it appears that drinking alcohol may reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Major medical groups have examined all researrch evidence about alcohol and cancer. They conclude that drinking does not increase the risk of developing the disease. The organizations include these.
- National Cancer Institute1
- American Cancer Society2
- Cancer Research UK4
- American Society of Clinical Oncology3
- Mayo Clinic5
- Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center6
- and other organizations7
II. Research Evidence
The research evidence is extensive. It incluses these.
Analysis of high alcohol intake northern Italians. It found no association, even at high levels of consumption.9
Researchers made a very large study in Massachusetts. They found no association, except that beer significantly reduced bladder cancer risk.”10
Doctors did a population-based case-control study in Los Angeles County. They found that “alcohol consumption was strongly associated with reduced risk of bladder cancer.” For example, those who consumed more than four drinks per day had a 32% reduced risk of bladder cancer. That’s in comparison to those who did not drink alcoholic beverages.11
It appears that drinking alcohol may reduce the risk of bladder cancer. However, more research is necessary to be certain.
Symptoms of bladder cancer can include
- Blood in urine
- Frequent urination
- Urinary tract infection
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain12
Having any of these symptoms does not mean that a person has bladder cancer. However, a person with any of these problems should discuss it with a doctor.
IV. Alcohol May Reduce Risk
Drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for developing bladder cancer but it may reduce the risk. In any case, the moderate consumption of alcohol is clearly associated with better health and greater longevity. That’s in comparison to either abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) had described drinking in moderation. It’s a man consuming four drinks on any day and an average of 14 drinks per week. For women, it’s consuming three drinks in any one day and an average of seven drinks per week.
A standard alcoholic drink is:
- A 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
- A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
- A shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof liquor or spirits.
Standard drinks contain equivalent amounts of alcohol. So to a breathalyzer, they’re all the same.
There is no evidence that any particular form of alcoholic beverage confers greater health benefits than any other. That is, neither beer, wine, nor distilled spirits has an overall health superiority over the others.
V. Popular Resources on Bladder Cancer
Libov, C. Cancer Survival Guide. How to Conquer It and Lead a Good Life. NY: Humanix, 2016.
Nat Cancer Inst. Bladder Cancer.
Raghavan, D. and Villiers-Tuthill, K. Cleveland Clinic Guide to Bladder Cancer. NY : Kaplan, 2010.
Schoenberg, M. The Guide to Living with Bladder Cancer. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U Press, 2001.
VI. Scientific Readings on Drinking Alcohol and Bladder Cancer
- Carmack A, and Soloway M. The diagnosis and staging of bladder cancer. Urol, 2006, 67(suppl 3A), 3-10.
- Gilligan, T., et al. Bladder Cancer. In: Kufe, D., et al. (Eds.) Cancer Med 6. Hamilton, Ont: Decker, 2003. Pp. 1689-1706.
- Grossman, H., et al. Detection of bladder cancer using a point-of-care proteomic assay. JAMA, 2005, 293(7), 810-816.
- McDougal, W., et al. Cancer of the Bladder. In: DeVita, V., et al., (Eds.) Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 2008. Pp. 1358-1384.
- Montie, J., et al. Carcinoma of the Bladder. In: Abeloff M., et al. (Eds.) Clinical Oncology. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2004. Pp. 2059-2084
VII. References for Alcohol and Bladder Cancer
1. Bladder Cancer: Who’s at Risk? https://www.cancer.gov/types/bladder
2. What are the Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladder-cancer.html
3. Bladder Cancer Risk Factors. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bladder-cancer/risk-factors?sectionTitle=Risk%20Factors
4. Bladder Cancer Risks and Causes. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/bladder-cancer
5. Bladder Cancer Risk Factors. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bladder-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20356104
6. Bladder Cancer Risk Factors. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/types/bladder
7. Bladder Cancer Risk Factors. https://www.verywellhealth.com/bladder-tumors-2328869
8. Zeegers, M., et al. Alcohol Consumption and Bladder Cancer Risk. Am J Epid, 2001, 153(1), 38-41.
9. Pelucchi, C., et al. Alcohol drinking and bladder cancer. J Clin Epid, 2002, 55(7), 637-641.
10. Djousse, L., et al. Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Bladder Cancer. J Nat Cancer Inst, 2004 96(18), 1397-1400
11. Liang, X., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of bladder cancer. Int J Cancer, 2007, 121(4), 839-845.
12. Bladder Cancer Symptoms. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bladder-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20356104