Ladies, listen up! The topic of bladder health may make you blush, but bladder cancer — more common among women than man — deserves more attention. Last year alone, 72,570 new cases were diagnosed in the United States, claiming 15,210 lives. While some risk factors, like gender, genes and race (Caucasians are more vulnerable) can’t be controlled — there are things you can do to protect yourself.  These include drinking enough liquids, minimizing urinary tract infections (yes,cranberries can help), avoiding cigarettes (three times the risk), and making dietary changes.

This last piece of advice was bolstered by a study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition, which monitored 85,885 subjects over the course of 12.5 years. A statistical analysis revealed that women in the top 25% of fruit and vegetable intake had a 65% reduced risk of bladder cancer. This benefit persisted across different produce categories, but  yellow/orange veggies (squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.) provided the biggest edge. Interestingly, men didn’t reap the same bladder cancer benefit in this study.

While adding more colorful fruit and veggies to your plate, you may want to minimize meat: not only do carnivores run a 25% increased risk of bladder cancer, those who ate a lot of  well-done meat shot their risk up to a stratospheric 474%. An added bonus: Less meat and more produce adds up to a healthier weight, which may lower your overall risk of cancer. Start improving your bladder health today with our Tangy Pineapple Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.

Published January 1, 2014