World has seen many epidemics which have caused huge deaths and destruction, but tobacco epidemic appears to be the biggest tragedy so far in the history of mankind, said Dr Arsheed H Hakeem, Senior Consultant Head and Neck Oncology Surgeon, Apollo Cancer Hospitals.
In his lecture on Tobacco Leads To Cancer – Stop Cancer Before It Starts organised by Public Garden Walkers Association on Sunday, Dr Hakeem said, “Tobacco was a significant public health hazard and killing almost 7 million people a year. Out of the seven million people, 6 million were those who are directly consuming tobacco in one form or the other and rest one million die due to second hand exposure to the toxic smoke. This makes tobacco consumption a leading cause of death which could be otherwise prevented if people restrain from using it. Tobacco contains more than 4000 chemicals, out of which 250 have harmful effects on body and more than 40 are known to cause cancer.”
Dr Hakeem added, ” It is estimated that at one point in time there are one billion tobacco smokers world wide and 80 per cent of them are from low socioeconomic countries like India .Hence the burden of tobacco related illness, impoverishment and death is highest in our country. These people die prematurely and deprive their family of income as they are often sole breadwinners. The increasing cost of healthcare cannot be afforded by them and are unable to undergo standard management”.