Diet & Nutrition
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last review date: September 2017. | Last updated: February 2023
Researchers are still working to understand possible links between diet and bladder cancer.1-4 There is not yet enough evidence that following a specific diet, or consuming (or avoiding) certain foods, will prevent a person from developing bladder cancer, or that it will keep cancer from recurring after a person has been treated. However, it is known that a nutritious, balanced diet can help to improve a person’s overall health.
Can a certain diet cause bladder cancer?
Some research has suggested that consuming certain foods and drinks may be related to an increased or decreased risk of developing other types of cancers, but there is not yet enough evidence for links between diet and bladder cancer. Despite the lack of evidence, there are many claims in the media and online that suggest following certain types of diets or taking dietary supplements will prevent cancer. It is important to remember that these claims are not supported by science.
Talk to your doctor before making changes
Talk with your healthcare provider before you make any changes to your diet to make sure that you are consuming all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Most healthcare providers will recommend following a well-balanced diet to support your overall health and to help maintain a healthy body weight. It may also lower your risk of developing other types of cancers, as well as potentially lower your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
Water supply and bladder cancer risk
Strong evidence does show that people who drink water from wells that contains a chemical called arsenic have an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.1,2 This is not generally a concern for people in the United States whose water is provided through a public water system. However, it may be an issue for people who drink water from private residential wells, especially older ones. If you are concerned that your home’s water well may contain arsenic, it is important to have your well water supply tested to make sure it is safe.
No other foods or drinks are linked to increased risk
At this time, there are no other foods or drinks that are linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer with strong scientific evidence. However, there are a small number of studies that have suggested that consuming more fruits and vegetables and drinking enough water each day may be linked to a decreased risk of bladder cancer. More studies will be needed to determine if these links are strongly supported by evidence, but both of those habits are parts of a healthy diet.
Recommendations for a nutritious and balanced diet
A nutritious, well-balanced diet contains a wide variety of foods including proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.2-4 Your healthcare provider can provide you with specific resources and advice about the balance of nutritious foods that is best for you, but some general recommendations include:
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day
- Avoid high-calorie and processed foods that are high in sugar and fat, and low in fiber
- Consume a variety of whole grains
- Limit the amount of salt you consume to 1 teaspoon or less per day
- Eat lean proteins (such as meat, seafood, eggs, and beans) but avoid eating too much red meat or processed meats
- Consume some dairy, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Consume a small amount of healthier, unsaturated fats, such as oily fish, avocado, nuts, seeds, and certain types of oils (such as olive oil)
- Avoid drinking alcohol, or limit your consumption of alcohol
- Consume your nutrients through healthy foods, rather than supplements, unless otherwise advised by your healthcare provider