Efforts to curb tobacco consumption urged

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD

Medical expert Saturday appealed to launch a mass awareness drive against gutka and Paan to save our youth from the menace of cancer as consumption of harmful ingredients used in gutka and other addictive substances not only leads to oral cancers, but can also increase the risk of prostrate, lung and kidney cancers.

Talking to a private news channel, General Physician Dr Azhar U zaman Khan urged citizens, mostly students and members of civil society, that a strong campaign against such things was required for awareness about these products among the masses.

Chewing smokeless tobacco, such as paan or gutkha, is popular with many people, but all forms of tobacco can harm your health, he highlighted.

Drawing attention of the people towards the dangers of gutka and tobacco paan, oral cancer is the second most common cancer in Pakistan and pan, chalia, sweet supari and gutka are the main causes of this disease.

He said regular consumption of gutka and other concoctions changes the color of the inner lining of the cheek from its natural pink to white. It is the first sign of oral cancer, which is painful for mouth.

He said people should refrain from cigarettes, paan, gutka, etc. all of which are unhealthy.

He advised the citizens that healthy diet and exercise can build the stamina to fight infectious diseases and almost 95 percent dental and oral diseases are preventable by adopting better hygiene practices.

Dr Azhar said they are observing oral cancer patients as young as 18 to 20 years. Now that’s a very productive age; it means that the disease is having a huge impact on society in terms of contributing to the health burden, loss of productivity as well as affecting individual families.

He said after ban of guttka in Karachi the consumption of tobacco increases among youth, adding, it is important to note that oral cancer may occur in people who do not smoke or take Paan, Chalia and Gutka occasionally.

Excessive use of paan and betel nut can lead to squamous cell carcinoma, he said adding, this is a cancer that causes the destruction of the epithelium layer of tissues and leads to the metastasis or breaking away of the epithelial cells.

He said chewing Paan can also lead to cardiovascular diseases, the most common of which is myocardial infarction heart attack.

Pan masala affects almost every part of the human body even without coming in direct contact. Chewers have poor dental hygiene, burning sensation, decreased mouth opening, pre-cancerous spots which have high chance of converting to oral cancer, he mentioned.

He suggested the government could also make these consumption unattractive by simply slapping hefty taxes on paan masala and gutka.

He explained ‘Mouth cancer’ can affect any part of the mouth, including the tongue and lips, adding, the most common symptoms are having a sore or ulcer for more than three weeks.

Citizens should see their dentist or doctor if they have any symptoms in your mouth that are unusual. The outlook (prognosis) for people with mouth cancer is good if it is diagnosed early, he added.