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Are you Chewing Cancer

According to Global Adult Tobacco survey, India is the world’s third largest producer of tobacco

            At present, nearly 0.9 million tobacco-related deaths occur in India annually as compared to 5.5 million worldwide which is expected to increase to about 10 million during 2020s

Tobacco use has been considered controversial for long although scientific evidence regarding its health hazards. Tobacco use has not been considered as a good habit by many societies, right from its introduction in 16th century. Consumption of tobacco is mainly in the form of bidi, followed by cigarette, hukah, chilum, chutta, etc. The habit of smokeless tobacco (also referred as tobacco chewing) is also very common. Some common forms of smokeless tobacco include khaini, Mainpuri tobacco, mawa, mishri etc.

The total number of tobacco users in the World has been estimated at 1.2 billion, which is expected to rise to 1.6 billion during 2020s. According to first Global Adult Tobacco survey – an estimated 274.9 million Indians consume tobacco. India is also the world’s third largest producer of tobacco, the report added.

At present, nearly 0.9 million tobacco-related deaths occur in India annually as compared to 5.5 million worldwide which is expected to increase to about 10 million during 2020s. The report also revealed that 8 to 10 lakh persons die of tobacco related diseases every year and this reflects a higher mortality than the combined deaths resulting from other major diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV AIDS and malaria.

Many of us are aware about the diseases that caused by consumption of tobacco which is mainly cancer of oral cavity, larynx, oesophagus, urinary bladder, kidney, stomach, pancreas, cervix. But several research studies have also identified smoking or consuming tobacco in any form adds multiple risk factors of infertility especially in men; risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures and early age wrinkles also.

Tobacco usage in any form like cigarette smoking, hookah, consuming bidi etc can harm you in many ways. Let’s have a look how:

Tobacco causes Cancer:

“There is no iota of doubt that tobacco usage is a leading cause of cancer. People who consumes tobacco in any form be it in form of smoking or chewing or even exposed to second hand smoke have an increased risk of cancer because tobacco products and second hand smoke have many chemicals that damages the DNA” said Dr. Vikas Goswami, Sr. Consultant Oncologist from Fortis Hospital.

In India apart from cigarette smoking other forms of smoking like bidi , hukka, chewing tobacco in various forms  is part of culture. Dr. Vikas Goswami explained that “Lung cancer is one of the most common form of cancer worldwide and the most common cause of lung cancer is smoking.  Cigarette smoking is increasing in younger age. Risk of lung cancer is up to 30 times higher in long term smokers compared with lifetime non smoker.”

Smoking cessation decreases risk of lung cancer. Lung cancer chances decrease by 25 to 90% by abstinence of more than 15 years.  The risk nevertheless is more than a non smoker. Adults who quit smoking on a long term basis can gain 5-10 years of life.

“If cessation is not possible even a reduction of smoking also helps in reducing the number of cigarettes to half decrease the chance of lung cancer by 25%. Surprisingly up to 20% of lung cancer can happen in non/never smokers” said Dr. Vikas Goswami

Tobacco chewing is considered a milder form of tobacco use but is highly prevalent in India, particularly among the lower socio-economic groups. Its association with oral cavity cancer is well established and this cancer is the commonest malignancy among Indian men, attesting to the widespread nature of this habit.

Life Managenent strategies recommended by Dr. Vikas:

  • Start by quitting
  • Eat a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Be Nature friendly
  • Be Your Own Bodyguard

Dr. Vikas Goswami is one of the distinguished Medical Oncologist and Sr. Consultant at the Fortis Hospital and International Oncology Services (IOSPL). He has done his MBBS from the famous Maulana Azad Medical College, MD (Internal Medicine) from Gandhi Medical College and DNB fellowship in Medical oncology fromRajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Institute and has more than 10 years of experience in the field of oncology.


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