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New England Bladder Cancer Study

Information for Journalists

To request an interview with a DCEG investigator, contact the NCI Office of Media Relations:


Phone: 240-760-6600

For over 50 years, mortality and incidence rates for bladder cancer are higher in New England than in most parts of the United States. This population-based, case-control study of bladder cancer in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine sought to explain the reasons for the persistent excess of rates of bladder cancer in the northern New England area.

Investigators collected data on 2,600 participants via personal interview, biological samples (blood, buccal cells, urine, toenails, and tumor tissue), as well as drinking water samples. They found that drinking water from private wells, particularly dug wells established during the first half of the 20th century, may have contributed to the elevated risk of bladder cancer that has been observed in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Other risk factors for bladder cancer, such as smoking and occupational exposures, did not explain the excess risk in this region.

Bladder cancer mortality rates (age-adjusted 2000 US population per 100, 000) among white men and women by state economic area and time period (1950-1979 and 1980-2004).

For more information, contact Dr. Debra Silverman or Dr. Stella Koutros.

Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch - Research Areas

Selected Publications

Beane Freeman LE, et al. Disinfection by-products in drinking water and bladder cancer: Evaluation of risk modification by common genetic polymorphisms in two case–control studies. Environ Health Perspect 2022 May.

Koutros S, et al. Potential effect modifiers of the arsenic-bladder cancer risk relationship. Int J Cancer July 2018.

Koutros S, et al. RE: Elevated bladder cancer in northern New England: The role of drinking water and arsenic. J Natl Cancer Inst, ePub March 2018.

Beane Freeman LE, et al. Bladder Cancer and water disinfection by-product exposures through multiple routes: A population-based case-control study (New England, USA). Environ Health Perspect 2017.

Baris, D. et al. Elevated bladder cancer in northern New England: The role of drinking water and arsenic. J Natl Cancer Inst May 2, 2016.

Figueroa JD, et al. Modification of occupational exposures on bladder cancer risk by common genetic polymorphisms. J Natl Cancer Inst Sep 14, 2015.

Nuckols JR, et al. Estimating water supply arsenic levels in the New England Bladder Cancer Study. Environ Health Perspect Sept 2011.

Colt, J, et al. Occupation and bladder cancer in a population-based case-control study in Northern New England. Occup Environ Med April 2011.

Baris, D. et al. A case-control study of smoking and bladder cancer risk: Emergent patterns over time. J Natl Cancer Inst Nov 18, 2009.