There have been multiple successful studies conducted to establish a link between tobacco and cancer. Various studies prove that tobacco causes cancers of the pharynx, larynx, lungs, kidney, pancreas, esophagus, stomach, kidney, cervix, lung, acute myeloid leukemia, bladder, and oral cavity1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US). (2004, January 01) 'Cancer' Source. As per a WHO report, approximately 5 million people die because of tobacco smoking2WHO (2008) 'Report on Global Tobacco Epidemic' Source
TOBACCO CURING PROCESS
Quick Fact - How Does Tobacco Turn into a Cancer-Causing Agent?
Nicotiana tabacum is a plant from which tobacco is processed. Nicotine is an active constituent in it. Tobacco leaves after harvesting are allowed to undergo a slow oxidation process which is called curing. It’s the curing process which makes tobacco a cancer-causing agent (carcinogenic)3Furrukh, M. (2013, August) 'Tobacco Smoking and Lung Cancer: Perception-changing facts' Source
Is there a Formulation of Tobacco which I can Consume and It May Not Cause Cancer?
Irrespective of the form in which you consume tobacco, chewing gum, cigarette, snuffing etc., it is bound to cause damage to your body and cause cancer. With regular consumption of tobacco over a period of time, your body becomes susceptible to develop carcinogenic cells (Cancer-causing cells). In developing countries, consumption of dried tobacco and areca nut mixture, is increasing the cases of oral cancer amongst the youth4Niaz, K., Maqbool, F., Khan, F., Bahadar, H., Ismail Hassan, F., & Abdollahi, M. (2017, March 09) 'Smokeless tobacco (paan and gutkha) consumption, prevalence, and contribution to oral cancer' Source
With how many Cigarettes a Day Can I Get Cancer?
The following graph shows the susceptibility level of an individual to cancer based on the frequency of smoking. Individuals smoking 20 plus cigarettes per day are on a higher risk of suffering from cancer. Further, individuals smoking less than ten cigarettes a day are also at a comparative risk of suffering from cancer.
How Does Smoking, Snuffing or Chewing Tobacco Cause Cancer?
Each puff of tobacco smoke or chew consists of thousands of chemical compounds out of which around 60 are known carcinogens5Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US). (2004, January 01) 'Cancer' Source
Metabolic Changes Leading to Activation of Carcinogens
These carcinogens alone can not cause cancer in the body. When enzymes (Cytochrome P-450 enzyme) present in the human body, come in contact with these carcinogens (inhaled through smoking, tobacco chew, snuff etc.), it helps in attaching the carcinogens to the DNA.
The bind between carcinogen and DNA is called as DNA adducts, and the process is known as Metabolic Activation.
Changes in the DNA leading to mutation because of Carcinogens
Once the DNA adducts are formed and not excreted from the body, it leads to changes in the DNA structure (DNA miscoding by insertion of wrong base). The difference in the DNA structure leads to the mutation of the gene.
Mutation of Gene and Cancer
The mutation of the genes leads to loss of normal cell growth function and hence results into cancer.
I have Been Smoking, Snuffing or Chewing Tobacco Since Years and Still haven’t Got cancer?
Post smoking, chewing tobacco, snuffing, using electric cigar, metabolic changes may lead to the formation of carcinogenic cells in the body which bind itself to the DNA. The body’s cell repair mechanism repairs the DNA6Furrukh, M. (2013, August) 'Tobacco Smoking and Lung Cancer: Perception-changing facts' Source and prevents it from mutation. Till the time, the body’s cell repair mechanism prevents mutation in the genes you will not have cancer.
I have never smoked, but still developed oral cancer?
Oral Cancer is not caused only by smoking. There are multiple factors associated with developing oral cancer.
Genetic Factor – The presence of oncogenes in the body poses a risk for developing oral cancer
Environmental Factors – Obesity, Diet, Hormonal Imbalance, Alcohol, HPV Infection, Metabolic Syndromes, Ionizing Radiations exposes the human body to chances of developing cancer.
Also Read - Breast Cancer in Men (Is it Possible?)
Is there an increased risk of cancer in females who smoke over male smokers?
Various epidemiological studies have proved that women smokers are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer7Aage Haugen( 2002, February), 'Women who smoke: are women more susceptible to tobacco-induced lung cancer?, Carcinogenesis' Volume 23, Issue 2, Pages 227–229 Source than their male counterparts
Can passive smoking lead to cancer?
Yes, passive tobacco smoking can also lead to cancer. A passive tobacco smoker inhales the same carcinogens which an active smoker does. The most common form of cancer known to happen in passive smokers is Lung cancer however, studies8Office on Smoking and Health (US). (2006, January 01). 'Cancer Among Adults from Exposure to Secondhand Smoke' Source are being conducted to study the extent of damage on the other organs of the body. As per the available data, it is estimated that around 3400 deaths due to lung cancer in passive smokers happen every year in the United States
If I quit smoking, am I still at risk of Developing Cancer?
Quitting smoking is not easy. It requires great effort, and the individual who has achieved it can only understand the dedication and will power it needs to do so. Well, quitting smoking may not make you 100% immune to cancer however the life expectancy increases by 10 more years compared to a smoker, and the probability of developing cancer shall be the same as that of a non-smoker9Taylor, D. H., Hasselblad, V., Henley, S. J., Thun, M. J., & Sloan, F. A. (2002, June) 'Benefits of smoking cessation for longevity' Source. Further, if an individual quits smoking before the age of 40, the chances of dying because of cancer reduces by 90%.
I was an oral cancer patient and have been cured by the treatment. Can I smoke 1 cigarette a day?
First of all getting cured in cancer is a blessing. However every former cancer patients has some chance of getting the disease back which is called relapse or recurrence. That’s is why patients are asked to keep a follow up with their primary oncologist. Hence it is advisable to not smoke once treated of cancer because it increases the chances of recurrence due similar pro-carcinogenic effect of tobacco.
Signs & Symptoms to Detect Cancer Due to Smoking, Snuffing or Chewing Tobacco
Following are some of the early signs and symptoms to detect cancer:-
Please consult an oncologist to confirm the diagnosis. Remember, early diagnosis10Hiom, S. C. (2015, March 31) 'Diagnosing cancer earlier: Reviewing the evidence for improving cancer survival' Source helps in increasing the survival rate of the patient
Understanding If You are Addicted To Tobacco and are At a Risk of Suffering from Cancer
You have indeed become addicted to tobacco in case if you find correlate with any of the below-mentioned habits:-
How To Quit Smoking and Prevent Cancer
Once you decide on quitting tobacco, you might have to face numerous situations wherein the addictiveness of tobacco will try to overpower your determination. Further, the withdrawal symptoms shall make it additionally difficult for you to quit smoking.
The cancer-causing elements present in tobacco are one of the most significant factors why doctors and health practitioners advocate a tobacco-free life. Thus, it makes sense to stay away from all tobacco products and eventually decrease the chances of developing carcinogenic cells in your body. Further, if notice any of the discussed noticeable symptoms in your body, consult an oncologist without any delay. Also, consider these symptoms as more significant reasons to quit smoking.
- 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US). (2004, January 01).
Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53010/
- 2WHO (2008)
Report on Global Tobacco Epidemic
Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.who.int/tobacco/mpower/mpower_report_full_2008.pdf
- 3Furrukh, M. (2013, August).
Tobacco Smoking and Lung Cancer: Perception-changing facts
Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3749017/
- 4Niaz, K., Maqbool, F., Khan, F., Bahadar, H., Ismail Hassan, F., & Abdollahi, M. (2017, March 09).
Smokeless tobacco (paan and gutkha) consumption, prevalence, and contribution to oral cancer.
Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5543298
- 5Aage Haugen( 2002, February),
Women who smoke: are women more susceptible to tobacco-induced lung cancer?, Carcinogenesis,
Volume 23, Issue 2, Pages 227–229, Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://doi.org/10.1093/carcin/23.2.227
- 6Office on Smoking and Health (US). (2006, January 01).
Cancer Among Adults from Exposure to Secondhand Smoke.
Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44330/
- 7Taylor, D. H., Hasselblad, V., Henley, S. J., Thun, M. J., & Sloan, F. A. (2002, June).
Benefits of smoking cessation for longevity.
Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447499/
- 8Hiom, S. C. (2015, March 31).
Diagnosing cancer earlier: Reviewing the evidence for improving cancer survival.
Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4385969/