Smoking is considered to be the most preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths. Tobacco smoke has cancer-causing chemicals known as carcinogens and these chemicals are known to cause cancer in any individual. So, every single time a person smokes a cigarette, beedi or chews tobacco, the chemicals enter the lungs and often spread to other parts of the body. Not only cancer, but exposure to tobacco can also lead to Chronic respiratory disease. Therefore, the first step for better health is to quit smoking.
Quitting smoking has many health benefits including reduced risk of cancer and also helps improve prognosis of cancer patients. Though cancer is life-threatening, it can be successfully treated if diagnosed at an early stage. One of the major reasons for lung cancer is the use of Tobacco. Tobacco usage not only causes lung cancer but also causes cancers of the mouth and throat, voice box, esophagus, stomach, kidney, pancreas, bladder to mention a few.
Out of these Head and Neck cancer and Lung cancer cases are most prominent. Lung cancer is the most prevalent cancer and is a major cause of cancer-related mortality in men in India. Comparatively, cancers are more commonly found in men and the leading cause found among them is smoking.
To detect cancer at an early stage, it is crucial to do a regular check-up and keep an eye on the symptoms. Persistent cough, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, blood in sputum, weight loss is some of the symptoms found among the patients with lung cancer. The earlier detected the sooner can it be cured.
Prevention is better than cure. Cessation of smoking is the main preventive measure people should abide by. Although, smoking not only kills the one who smokes but also the people around them who inhales that smoke. Secondhand smoking or passive smoking also leads to a higher risk of developing cancer.
Apart from completely quitting smoking some of the other preventive measures for better lung health is to lead a healthy lifestyle, minimize exposure to high pollutants. Along with that, breathing exercises also will help in enhancing lung capacity and keeping people healthy.
World No Tobacco Day is celebrated every year on May 31st to draw attention on the harmful effects of tobacco and encourage people to stop using tobacco in any form; whether through smoking cigarettes/e-cigarettes, beedi or chewing tobacco. An important approach to reducing the number of tobacco users in India is by strengthening and building comprehensive tobacco control programs that will help increase efforts to implement strategies to prevent tobacco use especially among youth and young adults and to encourage tobacco users to quit.
The author of this medical piece is Dr Suhas Aagre, Senior Medical Oncologist, ACI Cumballa Hill Hospital, Mumbai