May: Bladder Cancer Awareness Month
The month of May brings an important topic which is awareness about bladder cancer. For this reason, this month will be focused on the urinary system and the importance of urine (or pee) to the body. Let’s dig into health promotion strategies and preventative measurements to keep your pee and bladder in check!
How important is Urine?
Did you ever wonder why urine is yellow? Or what’s in it? Or how much urine can the bladder hold? Well, urine is a very important waste product that can tell us a lot about the health of the body, including the kidneys and the bladder. Some have discussed urine as being a biologically active tissue, but for the purpose of this educational session, I will call it a waste product. Once the blood is filtered in the kidneys and urine is formed, the urine is transported to the bladder through the ureters. On average, humans feel the urge to pee when there is about 200ml to 250ml of urine in the bladder. The bladder is a distendable and muscular bag that holds as much as 600ml to 1000ml of urine, depending on the individual. Then, the body senses the need to urinate and it relaxes the internal sphincter muscles and the urine is forced out of the bladder through the urethra. The urine is composed of about 95% of water and 5% of urea, potassium, calcium and other things. The smell can vary from strong, sweet, fruity, foul, musty or even a maple syrup odour. This clear yellow liquid is essential to keep a good balance between water and electrolytes and it is highly dependable on the good functioning of the kidneys. The colour comes from the breakdown of old red blood cells which form urobilins which is a yellow bile pigment and it can change depending on the intake of water, certain types of food, medications, different diseases, and the presence of blood cells.
Now that you know that, what colour is your urine?
Did you Know?
- According to Bladder Cancer Canada, bladder cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Canada (1).
- It is the 4th most common cancer among men and the 8th most common cancer among women (1).
- In Canada, around 12,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year (1).
- The most common symptom is blood in the urine, also known as gross hematuria (1).
- It is one of the most expensive cancer treatments to treat due to its recurrence rate of 65% to 70% (1).
- Cigarette smoking is the most common risk factor (1).
- There are over 80,000 bladder cancer survivors in Canada right now (1).
- Contact with chemicals such as dyes used in rubber and cable industries increases the risk of developing bladder cancer (2).
What to Do
Have you noticed a change in your pee when you go to the washroom lately? Does it look darker? How about the smell? Does it hurt when you pee? As I mentioned before, changes in the urine can happen for many reasons and they can include diet, poor or excessive water intake and certain medications. Similarly, infections and different pathologies can cause your pee to look a little different. Interestingly enough, blood can be visible or invisible in the urine and your pee may change colour from light yellow to a darker tone or even brown. It is important to highlight that blood in the urine does not mean you have cancer and in many cases, it is caused by something harmless. However, in some other cases, it may be a sign of something more serious. Having said that, if it is red and not yellow, take charge and do not mellow, speak with your healthcare professional and get your urine checked!
“The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder”, said Alfred Hitchcock. This is true, especially knowing now that there is an urge to pee when there is only 200ml in the bladder. With that being said, you could watch Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, but it would be much wiser to do physical activities. A study done by Liss et al. (2016) identified physical activity as a modifiable risk factor that may decrease bladder cancer mortality (3). Therefore, engaging in 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises every week can be beneficial to anyone to improve cardiopulmonary fitness and have an overall positive impact on your body. But first, consult with your physician to ensure your body is ready for the new routine. Sweat it out and live it up!
Nutrition The American Urological Association (AUA) has great recipes for overall bladder health and it could be a great tool for recipes. Go check it out!
- 4 cups Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
- 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsp Grated orange zest
- 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
- 1/3 cup Brown Sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup Chopped pecans
- 3 tbsp Butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine ingredients for Fruit Base and spread in an 8″ square pan.
- Combine Topping ingredients and sprinkle over Fruit Base.
- Bake at 350°F 40 – 45 minutes (5 minutes longer for frozen blueberries) or until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbly.
- Bladder Cancer Canada (n.d.). https://bladdercancercanada.org/en/bladder-cancer-facts/
- Tyerman, J., Cobbett, S. L., Lewis, S. M.(2023) Lewis’s Medical-Surgical Nursing in Canada: assessment and management of clinical problems. (5th ed.). Elsevier.
- Liss, White, M., Natarajan, L., & Parsons, J. K. (2016). Exercise Decreases and Smoking Increases Bladder Cancer Mortality. Clinical Genitourinary Cancer, 15(3), 391–395. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clgc.2016.11.006
- American Urological Association (n.d.). https://www.urologyhealth.org/healthy-living/food-and-recipes/breakfast-and-brunch/blueberry-and-maple-syrup-crunch
The content posted here is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment, but educational only