Curtail tobacco consumption before it kills you!

By ZRG | Updated: May 30, 2013, 19:06 PM IST

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi

On the occasion of ‘World No Tobacco Day’ which is observed around the world every year on May 31, the medical fraternity highlights the health problems associated with the consumption of tobacco and the rise of tobacco-related cancer deaths in India.

The health experts are of opinion that approximately 10 lakh people in India die every year due to tobacco related cancer and this figure will rise exponentially if not controlled on time.

According to the Lancet study “Cancer mortality in India: a nationally representative survey” published in 2012, 57.1 per cent of rural men died due to tobacco–related cancers. However, only 26.9 per cent of their urban counterparts succumbed to this deadly disease.

This trend transcends across the gender. 25.7 per cent of rural women died due to tobacco related cancers. However, only 10 per cent of mortality rate was witnessed in the urban women.

Rural men and women are the sufferers of the lot. Endorsing the above view, Dr. Manav Rakshak, consultant at Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi, laments, “In rural India, both men and women start smoking or inhaling any form of tobacco at a very early age because of peer pressure. Moreover, they are unaware of the repercussions associated with the same.”

“Use of smokeless tobacco and bidis are common in India where individuals favor two products for chewing: betel with tobacco and tobacco mixed with lime. Both of these products are carcinogenic to human beings,” concurs Dr. Arun Giri, senior consultant, oncology at Rockland Hospital.

As per Lancet study, about 52 per cent of oral cancers in India are attributable to the use of smokeless tobacco products. Furthermore, tobacco-related cancers represented 42 per cent (84,000) of male and 18.3 per cent (35,700) of female cancer deaths and there were twice as many deaths from oral cancers in comparison to lung cancers.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly six million people die from tobacco related causes every year. If present patterns of tobacco use persist, it could cause as many as one billion premature deaths globally during the 21st century.

“Passive smoking kills more and is in fact more dangerous than active smoking,” warns, Dr. V.P Singh, senior consultant, surgical oncology at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi.

Presently, the burden of tobacco use is greatest in high-income countries (18 per cent of deaths are attributable to tobacco use), intermediate in middle-income countries (11 per cent), and lowest in low-income countries (four per cent).

Suggesting measures to lower the use of tobacco, Dr. Singh at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital says, “There are two aspects to look at the current situation. Government lobbying is the first and the foremost requirement as of now. All tobacco cultivation and production should be stopped at once.”

“On an individual level, it has to be mass awareness through the help of civil society participation and celebrities to curb the root cause,” further adds Dr. Singh at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.