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Home News and Update Year 2010 Tobacco Behind Alarming Rise in Cancer Cases among Women

Tobacco Behind Alarming Rise in Cancer Cases among Women

Times of India
29 May 2010
Ahmedabad, India

Some Gutkha Brands Can Cause Cancer In Just Three To Five Months, Say Doctors
Seema along with her mother-in-law at a cancer hospital in the city Seema along with her mother-in-law at a cancer hospital in the city
World no Tobacco Day
As many as 17% of cancers cases among women in Gujarat are caused by consumption of tobacco, either chewing or smoking. What’s more, these figures are only likely to go up as more and more women fall prey to tobacco addiction.

This fact and more was revealed by director of Gujarat Cancer Research Institute (GCRI) Dr Pankaj Shah ahead of the World No Tobacco Day on May 31, which draws particular attention to the harmful effects of tobacco marketing among women and girls. “On an average 40,000 new cases of cancer are registered at GCRI every year. Among men,

54% cancer cases are tobacco–related, while in women the number has rose to 17%. We have seen that now women working as farm labourers as well as those partying in clubs are falling prey to tobacco addiction,” said Dr Shah. The fact that more women are falling prey to tobacco–caused cancer was also apparent from the fact that at least 25 women were currently admitted in the hospitals with cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus, pancreas, larynx, trachea, bronchus, lung are urinary bladder. There were also women with cancers of the uterus and cervix and were hooked to tobacco.

“Tobacco has over 40 carcinogens, which cause not only oral cancers but also cancer of the uterus and cervix,” Dr Pooja Nandwani Patel said.

Professor of medical oncology Dr Bharat Parikh said that there was a specific type of anaemia which is prevalent only in Gujarat due to highest consumption rate of gutkha and other forms of chewing tobacco.

“It might as well be called ‘mawa anaemia’. This is when people start gulping the juice of the tobacco. Just like it causes fibrosis of the cheeks, it causes fibrosis in the stomach. This leads to deficiency of folic acid, vitamin B12 causes anaemia. In many cases, such people have haemoglobin levels as low as six to seven per cent but their system has got used to it,” said Dr Parikh.

“In year 2008 alone, 990 women with cancers due to tobacco consumption were admitted in GCRI. These are alarming figures and not just men but even women need to understand the dangers of tobacco chewing,” said associate professor of community oncology Dr Parimal Jivarajani.

“Some gutkha brands have been reported by patients to have caused cancers in three to five months time. These are highly carcinogenic,” said Dr Shah.

Seema | 36
After a tiring day stitching clothes at the sewing machine, Seema Bhalchandani, 36, used to send her young sister–in–laws to go get two pouches of gutka for Re one. Nobody in the family had any inkling of the little refreshment Seema took to take a break from the hours of stitching. It, however, has cost her dear as she now battles oral cancer. “I used to eat gutkha. I had no idea I would suffer so much,” mumbled Seema with a tube in her mouth after she was recently operated. Seema says she picked up the habit a year and half back and even her younger sister–in–law was hooked to it. The disease, however, struck Seema first and took the family off–guard. “She could not open her mouth and would find it difficult to eat food. She was diagnosed with cancer. I have moved in with her to look her after,” said Seema’s loving motherin–law Meera.

Dhiraj | 65
Dhiraj, 65, thought nothing when she would rub tobacco snuff locally popular as chinkni over her gums to soothe her dental pain. It also seemed to reduce her stress after a day full of household work. What’s more, most neighbouring women used it as well. “I used chinkni for six months. I never realised it would give me cancer of the tongue,” said Dhiraj, who hails from Junagadh.

Muli | 50
Muli, 50, a resident of Ahmedabad has lost her tongue. She can hardly speak and suffers severe pain. Muli is addicted to tobacco snuff since the past 20 years and the disease finally caught up with her. Unfortunately, both her father and mother too are tobacco addicts. Muli picked up the habit from her parents. “Despite Muliben suffering so much, our parents are yet to give up tobacco,” said Kanta, Muli’s sister.

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