Say No to Oral Cancer
Cancer is a very scary word; nobody wants to hear that word when we go to see a doctor. But there are a few cancers that we can avoid, like cancers caused by smoking and chewing tobacco. I have family and friends that smoke and they live in complete denial. No matter how much you tell them, it is just not enough. The pain which patients with oral cancer go through is heart breaking and is not only hard on them but also on their families. Is it worth a life or the agony we put our families through? Smoking has become a big trend in young adults. Educating and reinforcing the message is the only way to make them see the light.
When you think of smoking, cancer that generally comes to our mind is lung cancer, but apart from that it can also cause cancer in oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas. Smoking increases the risk of oral cancer six times. Over 300,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year worldwide. Some cigarettes have as many as 500 chemical additives. Tobacco itself is a carcinogenic and the burning of these additives makes it worse. Thousands of chemical compounds are created by burning a cigarette, many of which are toxic and carcinogenic.
Chewing tobacco is another way of consuming tobacco. Small pouches are placed in cheek or under lower lip. Nicotine is absorbed through the lining of mouth. The other kind is the snuff which is finely cut or powdered. It is placed in the cheek or in the gum or behind the front teeth. Some people inhale dry snuff into their nose. There is nothing in tobacco that is good for you.
There are numerous chemicals in tobacco that can cause cancer. The most harmful chemical is called nitrous amine. The amount of nitrous amine varies in different products. Higher the levels, more chances of getting cancer. Not only is it known to cause oral cancer but also esophageal and pancreatic cancer. It can also cause heart disease and gum disease.
Another important thing that you do not want to ignore is second-hand smoking. Second-hand smoke comes from both the smoke that smoker’s exhale and the smoke floating from the end of the cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Second-hand smoke has thousands of chemicals, many of which are toxic and carcinogens. Apart from long term damage like cancer, it can increase the risk of respiratory infections, asthma, cough and allergies. Next time you have a person sitting next to you smoking, ask him or her to walk out. Never smoke in a room or bus, especially if there are children around.
Dr. Humairah Shah is a dentist by profession and works in Torrance, California (USA). She has been working exclusively with children for the past 11 years.