Risk Factors

Many will develop bladder cancer for no known reason. However, the risk of developing bladder cancer will typically increase with age. It usually occurs in people of 65 years of age or older. Bladder cancer is also more common in Caucasians, and seen more often in men than in women (1).

The following are some of the known risk factors for bladder cancer:

  • Smoking
    • There is a strong association between these factors, and smoking is actually the most common risk factor for bladder cancer.
  • Arsenic
    • Drinking water contaminated with arsenic, or being exposed to it in mining or manufacturing plants, will increase your risk of bladder cancer.
  • Occupational exposure to chemicals
    • Workers in the painting, transportation, textile and dye manufacturing, and aluminum and metal production industries will be more at risk of developing bladder cancer.
  • Exposure to radiation
    • People having received radiation therapy to the pelvis or abdomen, as well as people exposed to radiation at work or having survived nuclear accidents, are more likely to develop bladder cancer.
  • Chronic bladder irritation
    • Long-lasting bladder irritation or inflammation, often caused by bladder stones or infections, increases the risk of bladder cancer.
  • Personal history of urinary tract cancer


Other risk factors which have been shown to have an association, though not as strong as the factors listed above, include:

  • Exposure to chlorine by-products
  • Working as a hairdresser
  • Family history of bladder cancer
  • Exposure to pesticides



Information taken from Canadian Cancer Society unless otherwise indicated.

(1) “What causes bladder cancer”, Bladder Cancer Canada, n.d. https://bladdercancercanada.org/en/causes-of-bladder-cancer/