Don’t fret if you are one of those people who always need to get up and ‘go’ during the night. It might be good for you.
People who wake up at night to urinate are less likely to develop bladder cancer, Dr Debra Silverman of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and her colleagues have found. They said that both men and women who urinated at least twice at night were at 40 to 50 per cent lower risk of developing bladder cancer.
Their findings suggest that frequent urination may be protective because it reduces the amount of time the lining of the bladder is exposed to cancer-causing compounds in urine.
Research in animals and some small studies in humans have suggested that frequent urination may reduce bladder cancer risk, Dr Silverman and her team noted in the International Journal of Cancer. To investigate the relationship on a larger scale, they compared 884 men and women who had recently been diagnosed with bladder cancer with 996 healthy people.
The more a person urinated at night, the researchers found, the less likely he or she was to have bladder cancer. This effect was seen no matter how much water a person drank.
Smokers who didn’t urinate at night were seven times more at risk of bladder cancer than non-smokers, but smokers who did urinate during the night cut their risk in half.
Drinking water showed an independent effect on bladder cancer risk. People who consumed at least 1.4 litres of water daily and who urinated at least twice nightly were at 80 per cent lower risk compared to those who drank less than 0.4 litres daily and didn’t urinate at night.
Night-time urination may be more protective because this is the period when people typically go the longest without voiding, the researchers said. However, if confirmed, innovative approaches will be needed to translate their findings into meaningful prevention of bladder cancer deaths.