It’s time for old habits to die young; Pune speaks up

To avoid the deadly disease of cancer people just need to adopt healthier lifestyle. Speak Up talks to experts and sheds light on the matter.

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It’s time for old habits to die young; Pune speaks up


    A pan-India study on cancer mortality shows that half of the cancers that can be easily avoided are the leading causes of death in India. To avoid the deadly disease people just need to adopt healthier lifestyle. Speak Up talks to experts and sheds light on the matter.

    Majority of cancers are related to tobacco consumption and smoking
    There are three major reasons for high cancer mortality rate in India, especially those which can be easily avoided. Firstly, there is massive consumption of tobacco and tobacco related products in our country. Secondly, the awareness level among the people regarding the ill effects of tobacco consumption is very low. Lastly, those who end up with cancer don’t have access to specialised healthcare and even if they do, it is not up to the mark. Majority of oral, throat, lung and stomach cancers are related to tobacco consumption and smoking in our country. Chronic irritation to the tissues of oral cavity over a period of time can lead to cancer. This cancer, however, can be avoided. All one needs to do is give up the habit of consuming tobacco in any form. There is something called the pre-cancer stage in which a patient has to be
    self-aware and take precautions. India is the only country where tobacco related by-products are available besides smoking products.
    Dr Seemab Shaikh, ENT surgeon

    Most of the cancer patients seek medical help when they are in the advanced stage

    There is a general lack of awareness among people of the prior signs and symptoms of cancer, especially those which can be avoided. There is no national-level screening plan to deal with the disease. Due to poverty and low socio-economic status, people belonging to these categories are only bothered about making ends meet and neglect their health. Most of the cancer patients seek medical help when they are in the advanced stage, in which doctors can do nothing to save the patient.

    Tobacco related cancer can be avoided by stopping its intake. Smoking and chewing tobacco are bad habits that cause permanent damage to health. Stomach related cancer in India is also common because of eating acidic or spicy food. Women related cervical and breast cancers are lifestyle related diseases that can be prevented. Women who maintain poor genital hygiene are more prone to cervical cancer. Breast cancer is related to urban lifestyle such as fatty diets, sedentary lifestyle and no breast feeding.
    Dr Anupama Mane, Oncosurgeon

    Women above 40 should go for pap smear
    Chewing and smoking tobacco is the major cause for lung and oral cancer among men. The entire policy of the government is to promote the tobacco industry instead of regulating it. Until the government does not take concrete steps, tobacco related cancer will continue to kill people in our country.

    Due to lack of awareness among women, cervical cancer has become a cause of concern. Pap smears are easily and cheaply available. After the age of 40, women must regularly get pap smear done. The pap smear must be actively included by the government in their public health programme.

    Other reasons like environmental pollution, contamination and workplace hazards are also indirect causes for increasing cancer cases in our country. Cancer must be handled in a comprehensive manner with more focus on prevention.
    Dr Abhay Shukla, coordinator, Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiative (SATHI)

    If tobacco is banned we can save a lot of lives

    Basically, lack of awareness regarding cancer and our poor lifestyle has caused an alarming increase in the disease. Those who are addicted to tobacco can’t get rid of the habit and the government is not doing anything to regulate the tobacco industry. It is shocking to know that according to a city survey, over 13% schoolchildren are addicted to tobacco. It is also surprising that more than 40% of our rural population who habitually chew tobacco and smoke beedis are totally oblivious to its dangers. They do it just because it relieves them of stress. If tobacco is completely banned in India, we can save over 60% of people from cancer. Meanwhile, cervical cancer can be easily prevented by following hygienic habits and getting vaccinated. A simple pap smear can also be done to detect the disease. Breast cancer has become common in urban areas due westernisation of our habits.
    Dr CB Koppikar, managing trustee & director, Prashanti Cancer Care Mission

    People lack knowledge on how to prevent cancer
    The main reason for oral cancer, which is avoidable, is neglect of oral hygiene. Tobacco chewing and consuming pan masala or gutkha are the major causes for oral cancer. This habit can lead to benign tumour, which can turn to malignant form. Just by avoiding tobacco consumption, the human lifespan can be increased by 8 to 10 years. In India the major reason for oral, lung and throat cancer is tobacco chewing or smoking. Oral cancer can be cured if it is diagnosed early. The lack of knowledge to prevent and cure the disease is the biggest problem faced by society. Negligence is one of the main causes of concern in our country.
    Aakash Shah, chief dental surgeon, Oracare Dental Care Centre

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