Retired Firefighters at Risk for Bladder Cancer

May 16, 2008
Retired firefighters no longer risk their lives fighting deadly blazes, but a new study reveals they may face a new danger: an increased risk of developing transitional call carcinoma, or bladder cancer.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco presented the study results at the annual scientific meeting of the American Urological Association. They said firefighters should undergo routine annual screening as it was a well-known fact that prolonged exposure to environmental pollutants and chemicals can place humans at a major risk for developing bladder cancer. Currently, however, no guidelines exist for regular bladder cancer screening.

Being exposed to smoke and chemical fumes is an occupational hazard firefighters routinely are exposed to and as a result, may be at a higher risk than other occupational groups for developing the disease.

Researchers explained that as the body absorbs carcinogenic chemicals, such as cigarette smoke, the chemicals are transferred to the blood, filtered out by the kidneys and expelled from the body through urine. Greater concentrations of chemicals in the urine can damage the endothelial lining of the bladder and increase a patient’s odds of developing bladder cancer.

The research team studied 1,286 active and retired San Francisco firefighters from August 2006 to March 2007, looking for markers of bladder cancer before doing further examinations. Two of the retired firefighters and one in active duty were diagnosed with bladder cancer.

According to the researchers, their findings represent a higher incidence, suggesting retired firefighters may be a high-risk group.

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