There are numerous causes of fishy smelling urine, and you may be wondering if cancer is one of them if you’re suffering from this situation.

If your urine has a fishy odor, it’s exceedingly unlikely that cancer has anything to do with this.

You probably have one of the following causes of fishy smelling urine.

Antibiotics. These drugs may cause urine to have an unpleasant odor that one might describe as fishy.

Asparagus. Yes, eating this healthful vegetable can make urine stink.

Kidney stones. There may be pain in the lower back or groin, but there may also be a foul smell to your urine.

Phenylketonuria. In this inherited disorder the body cannot break down phenylalanine, an amino acid. Urine may have a putrid or somewhat fishy smell.

Prostatitis. Inflammation of the prostate can cause burning urination and a bad smell.

Trimethylaminuria. This genetic condition causes the whole body to smell fishy, and the urine may have a particularly strong stench of rotten fish.

Urinary tract infection. Along with classic symptoms of a frequent feeling that you have to relieve yourself, burning while urinating and cloudy urine, you may notice a fishy odor.


Vaginitis. Inflammation of the vagina often causes itching and discharge.

When bacteria is the cause, the condition is called bacterial vaginosis and can definitely result in fishy smelling urine – because the vaginal discharge itself is fishy in odor and can intermix with urine output.


Can prostate cancer change the odor of urine?

“No; humans can’t detect a difference,” says Jonathan W. Simons, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, David H. Koch Chair.

Dr. Simons continues, “So, while humans can’t smell prostate cancer, research continues as to what is in the urine that a dog can smell and whether a new kind of biosensor could be invented like an artificial dog’s nose superior to a PSA test.”

Bad Urine Odor but not Fishy

Dehydration can cause urine to have a “strong” odor, but it just smells more “uriny,” or almost like what a port-o-potty smells like that hasn’t been cleaned for a while.

Diabetes, too, can alter the natural odor of urine, but the change is that of an odd sweet smell because there’s more sugar in the excrement.

Don’t jump to the conclusion that you might have cancer just because your urine has a stinky fishy smell.

But certainly, you should see a doctor to find out what is causing the problem.

dr. simonsDr. Simons is an internationally recognized physician-scientist, oncologist and acclaimed investigator in translational prostate cancer research.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
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