Lead exposure may be associated with the initiation and development of bladder cancer, according to a study conducted in Poland.

A team led by Tomasz Golabek, MD, now with Mercy University Hospital in Cork, Ireland, measured lead concentrations in blood and bladder cancer tissue from 36 patients and in blood and normal bladder tissue from 15 deceased individuals (controls).

The mean value of lead concentration in the bladder cancer tissue was a statistically significant 103% greater than that of normal bladder tissue, the researchers reported in the Scandinavian Journal of Urology and Nephrology (2009;43:467-470). The mean lead level in blood from the patients with bladder cancer was 54.5% greater than the level in the blood of control subjects. Dr. Golabek’s group observed no correlation between lead levels in blood and tumor tissue from the patients with bladder cancer.

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“The statistically significant higher content of lead in both the cancer tissue and blood of patients with bladder cancer compared with those without may suggest a relation between their exposure to lead and the oncogenesis and development of bladder cancer,” the authors concluded.