TOBACCO – THE BIGGEST MENACE

Some facts and how to quit tobacco

Tobacco is used in our country in many forms, some unique to this part of the world. It could be one of the following

Smoking – Cigarette, Beedi, Chillum, Hooka, Cigars, Chutta & Revers Chutta

Smokeless tobacco – Pan, Gutka, Khaini, Pan Masala, Snuff, Mishri, Mawa, Toothpaste with tobacco

Nearly one third of Indians above 15 years are using some form of tobacco which causes almost 40 percent of all cancers.

Many families in our country earn their livelihood by making beedis and are helped by their children as well. A significant proportion of these get addicted to using tobacco in some form. Even those who do not actively use it end up inhaling the tobacco flakes in the process of making beedis which is as dangerous as smoking and puts these families and young children at risk of various lung diseases and cancers.

Tobacco causes 90 percent of lung & oral cancers and many more!!

Most of us are aware that smoking causes lung cancer and chewing tobacco causes oral cancer. However, the list of tobacco related diseases is long and includes stroke, heart attacks, bronchitis, asthma, many other cancers, impotence, birth defects and growth retardation in babies of pregnant and feeding mothers, depressed immune system etc. In addition, it leads to bad breath, stained teeth, poor healing of wounds, early tiredness. All these diseases also affect the “innocent bystanders” – the loved ones around you who inhale the “second hand” smoke

Symptoms of lung cancer

Unfortunately, the symptoms of lung cancer don’t develop unless it has grown to a sizeable mass when the cure rates drop further down. Get yourself checked if you have any of these

  • Cough for more than 3 weeks
  • Blood stained sputum
  • Difficulty in breathing / chest discomfort / wheezing
  • Change in voice (hoarseness) for > 3 weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss / tiredness

Symptoms of oral cancer and how to detect it early

Oral cancer or its precursors are easy to detect at an early stage.

White or reddish patches inside the lining of mouth or tongue are considered as precursors of cancer, latter being more sinister.

Non-healing ulcers – for more than three weeks despite treatment.

Sometimes, an underlying or adjacent cancer presents as a loose tooth. It is imperative to rule out cancer in patients with loose tooth that otherwise looks healthy.

Lump in the neck could indicate disease inside oral cavity or throat, cancer being an important one.

A regular, monthly self-examination of oral cavity and neck can help in early detection. Annual check up with cancer experts is also recommended.

Catch them Young and Early !!

“This young adult market, the 14 to 24 age group…represent(s) tomorrow’s cigarette business.” – R J Reynolds (1974).

The owner of the second largest tobacco company in the USA made this unfortunate comment. But, our aim is to catch the cancer young and early. Need of the hour is to educate our younger generation about the ill-effects and prevent them from taking to this habit thus preventing 40 percent of the cancers.

How to quit? Can I ??

You can eat five portions of fruit or veg a day and exercise regularly – but healthy behaviour means little if you continue to smoke.

Stopping smoking / using tobacco is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your health, but it’s a difficult task, not impossible though!.

There are no thumb rules to follow or guaranteed success but one’s determination, support of family & friends and timely professional help are the keys to success. These steps may serve as a guide (START)

List the reasons why you want to quit and keep it with you

S – Set a date and quit completely; simply reducing would just bounce back. You may gradually decrease as you approach the set date

T – Tell family and close friends to garner strength and support

A – Anticipate and plan for difficult times. Keep a record of when, how much and why you smoke or use tobacco

R – Remove all tobacco products from your vicinity

T – Talk to your doctor to seek professional help for counselling and nicotine cravings do not self-medicate

Lastly, be prepared for relapse. Four out of five times the quitting trial fails! Nonetheless, keep trying

So, START now and lead a tobacco free life.

Ask your doctor and you may visit www.cancer.org (website of American Cancer Society) to get help for quitting tobacco

Following can be given in a TEXT BOX

Some startling (shocking) facts about tobacco / smoking

Everyday 5,500 children start using tobacco and half of them continue for life

More than 90 percent of adult smokers started in their teens.

Nearly 30 percent of Indians above 15 years use tobacco in some form

Every eight seconds, a human life is lost to tobacco use somewhere in the world.

That translates to approximately 5 million deaths annually.

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.

Beedis deliver twice the amount of tar and seven times the amount of nicotine of regular cigarettes and thus are far more addictive

The number of people under the age of 70 who die from smoking-related diseases exceeds the total figure for deaths caused by breast cancer, AIDS, traffic accidents and drug addiction.

Media coverage of the training of our workers at Manipal Hospital, Delhi about ill effects of tobacco:

https://www.healthysoch.com/latest/manipal-hospital-delhi-marks-world-cancer-day-by-creating-awareness-on-ill-effects-of-tobacco/

Each cigarette shortens a smoker’s life by around 11 minutes!

AUTHOR:
Dr Vedant Kabra
MS MRCS (Edin) DNB MNAMS FIAGES
Head, Department of Surgical Oncology
Manipal Hospitals Dwarka, New Delhi