By Patrícia Pasquini, from Folhapress
SÃO PAULO – Smokers are three times more likely to develop bladder cancer. The alert is from the IUCR (Institute of Urology, Oncology and Robotic Surgery).
According to the urologist and oncological surgeon Gustavo Cardoso Guimarães, director of the IUCR and general coordinator of the Oncological Surgical Departments of the BP-A Beneficência Portuguesa group in São Paulo, the toxic substances in cigarettes are eliminated by the kidney and attack the bladder wall.
“The path taken in the body by cigarette smoke is devastating for the bladder and for the other organs it passes through”, says the doctor.
“Tobacco has hundreds of chemicals attached to it. At least 40 are proven to be carcinogenic. In natura tobacco is already bad, but processed by the industry is even worse, because there is a greater concentration of these carcinogens, which through breathing go to the lungs, to the bloodstream and circulate throughout the entire body”, explains Guimarães.
The effects of tobacco are long term. Even if the person stops smoking, the body can take 10 to 20 years to eliminate these carcinogenic substances. “Active and passive smokers are at an enormous risk of disease. The greater the consumption and time of consumption, the greater this risk”, says the expert.
According to Inca (National Cancer Institute), estimates for each year of the 2023-2025 triennium are that just over 11,300 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer in Brazil, 7,800 men and 3,500 women.
The fact that the disease is more frequent in men may also have cigarettes as one of the explanations: they smoke more.
Bladder cancer mainly affects people over 55 years old – with a peak incidence between 60 and 70 years old – and is twice as common in whites than in blacks.
Bladder tumors are mostly asymptomatic. When there are initial symptoms, they are mild: a little irritation when urinating and discreet bleeding.
It is important to note that identifying blood in the urine does not mean you have bladder cancer. The cause could be an infection, kidney stones, or benign kidney disease. Therefore, medical evaluation is essential.
Other warning signs are difficulty urinating or weak urine flow, pain, burning, discomfort, frequent urination and urgency to urinate, even when the bladder is not full. Signs of metastasis may appear, such as bone pain and difficulty breathing. Bladder cancer tends to spread to the lymph nodes, bones and lungs.
“Bladder tumors have a high possibility of recurrence. They are highly deadly, but if discovered early and superficially, the chances of cure are above 90%, 95%”, says the urologist.
“When the tumor infiltrates the bladder muscles, even with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, these chances drop drastically – 50% of patients die in five years”, says Guimarães.
In case of metastasis, the possibility of cure is below 10%, according to a survey by the American Cancer Society.
According to WHO (World Health Organization), tobacco use is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes. It is estimated that mortality attributed specifically to tobacco is 12% worldwide and 16% in the Americas.
Other Consequences of Tobacco
According to pulmonologist Paulo Corrêa, coordinator of the Scientific Commission on Tobacco Use of the Brazilian Society of Pulmonology and Phthisiology, cigarettes are responsible for 30% of all cancers – bladder, lung, esophagus, lip, cervix and others.
“Cardiovascular diseases are the ones that kill the most from smoking, as well as strokes. In respiratory diseases there is an increased susceptibility to infections of the most varied natures, from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). In smokers, mortality from tuberculosis grows, ”he says.
Corrêa explains that any level of exposure to cigarettes is considered unsafe. “It’s like a disease savings account. You invest in your savings until the glass overflows”.
According to the pulmonologist, quitting smoking by age 35 does not change life expectancy. After this age, the quantity and quality of years lived progressively decrease.
“Cigarettes lengthen the period of limitation of quality of life for everyday things. People with COPD, for example, cannot get a bag out of the closet, take a shower or tie a shoe without feeling short of breath”, says Corrêa.
What causes cigarette addiction?
Nicotine, present in any tobacco derivative, has psychoactive properties. When inhaled, it can lead to abuse and dependence. Despite being the main substance present in cigarettes that creates addiction, it does not act alone. There are others that potentiate this effect, such as acetaldehyde, also present in electronic cigarettes.
In addition to nicotine, heroin and cocaine are the most addictive. Every drug smoked gets to the brain very quickly. It takes 6 to 10 seconds, according to Paulo Corrêa.
“Stopping smoking means reducing the risk of tobacco-related diseases. The problem is that for each disease there is a different time to match the risk of those who have never smoked”, explains the doctor.
The SUS (Unified Health System) offers free treatment to those who want to quit smoking. Interested parties should inquire at a UBS (Basic Health Unit) or Caps AD (Psychosocial Care Center for Alcohol and Drugs).
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