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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Be Aware and Beware

By The Editor

Cancer rate in Meghalaya is one of the highest in the country and main cause of cancer is tobacco use. Young boys and even girls nowadays who smoke take it lightly because they presume that smoking is style and fashionable which most people accept but once the habit becomes addictive then it is very difficult to leave  it. Most people who smoke more than two packets of cigarettes a day do so because they have developed a craving for tobacco and if they cannot get what they want they become mad and restless which affects their work. According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2016-17 about 45 per cent of adults in the state and 34 per cent of 13-15-year – olds (Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2019) consume tobacco in various forms. In the initial stage people may not be much aware of the effects and dangers of smoking and even if they come to know later on they will brush it aside without even batting an eyelid.

Almost 50 percent of all cancers in India are due to tobacco use and esophagus cancer commonly known as throat cancer is the most prevalent form. In Meghalaya this type of cancer is very, very high which surpasses national average by more than tenfold and poses a great challenge to the state. In view thereof North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) on May 24 organised a consultative meeting in collaboration with department of Community Medicine and Northeast- India Association of Surgical Oncology (NASO) to create awareness and to develop strategies for cancer control. Personal experience of cancer survivor and relative of cancer patient helped the attendees to comprehend seriousness of the matter which therefore should not be ignored right from the beginning itself and to notice for any symptoms so that precautionary measures can be immediately undertaken. Public consciousness and awareness through information, education and communication (IEC) materials in English and local languages is of prime importance, non- governmental organisations (NGOs), churches, village dorbars and educational institutions, etc. can take up the challenge by organising meetings, seminars, symposiums , debates, etc. focusing on cancer prevention and treatment. Passive smokers – persons who inhale the smoke exhaled by smokers – themselves are also at risk. Hence public places are to be notified as no-tobacco zones with special provision of tobacco zones for smokers.

Besides, there also smokeless forms of tobacco which affect health and some of these are: Gutkha used mainly in India which contains sweeteners and flavorings; zarda an Indian tobacco product used in paan (betel quid) with areca nut;  paan masala with or without tobacco containing sweetening agents with tobacco ingredients; khaini a mixture of sun-dried tobacco and slaked lime snuff containing powdered tobacco; creamy stuff containing tobacco paste and other materials like clove oil, glycerin menthol, camphor and sold in toothpaste tube. On an average smokers are more susceptible to deadly diseases and die earlier than non – smokers.

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