Tuesday January 23, 2018

World No Tobacco Day special: Smoking Hukkah more dangerous than using cigarettes

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New Delhi: Seventeen-year-old Harsh Mahajan could not understand the pain in his chest while breathing or why the colour of his sputum was changing. The class eight dropout, who got addicted to the hukkah (Indian water pipe) smoking at an early age, kept ignoring his health complications till the day his parents saw him coughing blood.

After several tests were conducted at a hospital, both of Mahajan’s lungs were found to be filled with tar caused due to the tobacco smoke inhaled through the hukkah. Though medical experts started treating the teenager, he succumbed to lung cancer – serving as a warning for his friends who were similarly addicted.

Recent studies have concluded that in India the percentage of students who initiate hukkah smoking before 10 years of age has increased from 26 per cent to 45 per cent in the last one decade.

Health experts said that at least 40 percent of school-going students get into smoking the hukkah, to quench their desire for smoking cigarettes, thinking that the lower of tobacco content in hukkahs won’t harm their health.

“The existing myths compel youngsters to get into the practice of smoking hukkahs. A lot of people are still under the impression that the hukkah is an alternate to cigarettes, with less harm to health, but they are not able to understand that a typical one-hour-long hookah smoking session involves 200 puffs, while an average cigarette requires 20 puffs. This makes the hukkah more dangerous for the human body,” Kedar Toraskar, Chest Physician at Mumbai-based Wockhardt Hospital, told IANS.

He said that the volume of smoke inhaled during a typical hookah session was about 90,000 milliliters, compared to 500 to 600 milliliters of smoke inhaled by smoking a cigarette.

Emphasising that hukkah smoking was emerging as one of the prime reason behind the rising lung-related disease among youngsters, Toraskar said that the harmful toxins in hukkahs also caused respiratory illness, low birth weight and periodontal diseases among many.

He revealed that babies born to women who smoked a hukkah every day were likely to be 3.5 ounces less in weight than the babies delivered by a non-smokers. Explaining how somking a hukkah causes damage to the human body, Toraskar said: “The smoke produced by the charcoal burning in the hukkah contains high levels of carbon monoxide, metals and cancer-causing chemicals which does the same damage that cigarette or a bidi does to a human body.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says tobacco causes over five million deaths world wide which is likely to increase to 8.4 million if the situation is not brought under control. Tapaswini P. Sharma, senior consultant of surgery at Delhi-based B.L.K. Hospital said: “A lot of people are under the impression that the water used in the hukkah reduces the harmful affect of tobacco and causes no harm to the lungs, however this is not true as the toxins remains insoluble.”

“In fact, hookah use can also impair cardiac functions, and lead to cancers of the esophagus, mouth, lung, stomach, and decreased fertility. All the harmful effects associated with cigarettes are very much prevalent with the hookas too,” Sharma told IANS. Sudhir Khandelwal, head of the psychiatric department at AIIMS, said every form of tobacco consumption such as hukkah, inhaling and the pan causes the same damage that chewing tobacco does.

“Though a person starts with hukkah occasionally, but with time they become addicted to it,” Khandelwal told IANS, adding that the youth consuming tobacco in any form were more likely to get into active cigarette smoking. “In all, 50 percent of the cancers in India are directly or indirectly related to tobacco consumption,” he said.

On the other health damage caused by hukkahs, Rajeev Dewan, senior consultant in Internal Medicine at Delhi-based Saroj Super Specialty Hospital, said that tobacco juices from hukkahs affect the mouth and increases the risk of developing oral cancers. “As a substitute, there are also e-hukkahs available which are considered to be nicotine free. But these are all false myths as they do contain some amount of nicotine and cancerous elements which are enough to cause the same damage any tobacco related product does to a human body,” Dewan said. (IANS)

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Colorectal Cancer Rising Among Younger Adults

Researchers note that rates of colorectal cancer have been falling since the 1980s.

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Colorectal Cancer rising among the young adults. Pixabay
Colorectal Cancer rising among the young adults. Pixabay
  • Latest research says young adults have higher chances of having colorectal cancer
  • Risk is higher in those born in 1990
  • The research also has stats for other kinds of cancer

Americans born in 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer than those born around 1950, a new study suggests.

The study found that colorectal cancer is on the rise among young and middle-aged adults in their early 50s. Rectal cancer is growing particularly fast among people younger than 55, with 30 percent of diagnoses in people under 55.

“Trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden,” said Rebecca Siegel, of the American Cancer Society and lead author of the study that appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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The risk is more for people born in 1990 than those in 1950. Wikimedia commons
The risk is more for people born in 1990 than those in 1950. Wikimedia commons

“Our finding that colorectal cancer risk for millennials has escalated back to the level of those born in the late 1800s is very sobering. Educational campaigns are needed to alert clinicians and the general public about this increase to help reduce delays in diagnosis, which are so prevalent in young people, but also to encourage healthier eating and more active lifestyles to try to reverse this trend.”

Researchers note that rates of colorectal cancer have been falling since the 1980s with an even steeper decline in the past decade, which has been caused by more screening.

But they wanted to find out why some studies have shown a rising rate among people under 50 for whom screening is generally not done. For their study, researchers looked at cases of colorectal cancer in people over 20 from 1974 to 2013. There were 490,305 cases.

Cancer rate declined generally but increased in this particular age group. VOA
Cancer rate declined generally but increased in this particular age group. VOA

The data showed the rates of colon cancer initially decreased after 1974, but then grew by one or two percent from the mid-1980s to 2013 among adults aged 20 to 39. For people aged 40 to 54, the rates increased between .5 percent and one percent from the mid 1990s to 2013.

For rectal cancer, the increases were greater, with rates rising about three percent per year from 1974 to 2013 in adults aged 20 to 29. For adults between 30 and 39, there was a similar rise from 1980 to 2013. For adults between 40 and 54, rates increased by two percent from the 1990s to 2013.

Rates for adults older than 55 has been declining for about 40 years, researchers said.

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Researchers say the results could change the age at which screening for colorectal cancer starts and cite 10,400 cases diagnosed in people in their 40s plus 12,800 cases in people in their early 50s.

“These numbers are similar to the total number of cervical cancers diagnosed, for which we recommend screening for the 95 million women ages 21 to 65 years,” Siegel said. VOA