New Delhi: Lung cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers and a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. It is responsible for 13 percent of all new cancer cases and 19 percent of cancer-related deaths worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation, lung cancer was the most common cause of cancer deaths in 2020.
The most significant risk factor for lung cancer is cigarette smoking. Lung cancer chances are also affected by using other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes. Tobacco smoke contains about 7,000 compounds, many of which are toxins.
People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke. Lung cancer can develop even if you only smoke a few cigarettes a day or smoke occasionally. The longer a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked per day, the greater the danger.
Vijith Shetty, MD DM, Consultant Medical Oncologist, K.S. Hegde Hospital, Mangalore, tells IANSlife, “Tobacco consumption is often perceived as safer than cigarettes or smoked tobacco products. However, chewing tobacco is a risk factor which leads to the development of oral cancers and precancers (abnormal cells which have undergone some changes and can become cancerous). Chewing tobacco also puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease, gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.”
Adithya Murali, MD DM, Consultant Medical Oncologist, ASTER CMI Hospital, Bangalore iterates that tobacco causes 8 million deaths every year.
“Studies conducted this year show that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers. The virus primarily attacks the lungs and smoking weakens the lungs, thereby making it difficult to fight Covid and other diseases. Smoking is also a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes which put such people at a greater risk of COVID,” Murali says.
Srinivas B.J, MD DNB, Medical Oncologist , HCG Hospital, Bangalore, tells IANSlife, “Smoking can cause cancer in any area of the body, including the larynx, ureter, bladder, cervix, oesophagus, liver, lung, pancreas, stomach, colon or rectum, throat, tongue, and tonsils, among other places. Smoking also raises your chances of getting cancer and other diseases.
Cigarettes contain multiple chemicals including something like Cadmium which is used in car batteries, or tar which is used on the roads, warns Anil Heroor, Head-Surgical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Mulund and Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi.
Heroor lists the benefits of quitting smoking on your health and your quality of life:
Quitting smoking lets you breathe more easily: People breathe more easily and cough less when they give up smoking because their lung capacity improves by up to 10 per cent within 9 months. In your 20s and 30s, the effect of smoking on your lung capacity may not be noticeable until you go for a run, but lung capacity naturally diminishes with age. Once older, for a high lung capacity it means one has to have an active, healthy old age — one that limits wheezing when you go for a walk or climb the stairs.
Quitting smoking gives you more energy: Within 2 to 12 weeks of stopping smoking, your blood circulation improves. This makes all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier.
Quitting smoking reduces mental stress: There are scientific studies that show people’s stress levels are lower after they stop smoking. If you find that you are prone to stress, replacing smoking with a healthier, better way of dealing with stress can give you some real benefits.
Stopping smoking improves fertility: Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb and can make men’s sperm more potent. Most importantly, it improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
Quit smoking to live longer: Half of all long-term smokers die early from smoking-related diseases, including Cancer, heart disease and Chronic Lung Diseases. People who quit smoking by the age of 30 years, add 10 years to their life. People who kick the habit at 60 years add 3 years to their life. In other words, it is never too late to benefit from stopping.