World No Tobacco Day - take a stand against smoking | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
 In Employee Profiles, Lifehouse News

“Take a stand at your workplace and social circles not to accept any forms of smoking any time.”

World No Tobacco Day takes place on 31 May every year. It is about saying no to tobacco to protect health, reduce poverty and promote development. Dr Samantha Herath, a lung cancer physician at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, discusses the link between tobacco and cancer.

What kind of cancers are caused or related to tobacco?
There are 16 different types of cancers that are caused by smoking:
1. Lung
2. Mouth/oral cavity
3. Throat
4. Oesophagus
5. Stomach
6. Bowel
7. Liver
8. Pancreas
9. Nasal cavity/sinuses
10. Larynx
11. Cervix
12. Ovary
13. Bladder
14. Kidney
15. Ureters
16. Bone marrow
Lung cancer is the most strongly linked cancer to smoking and the number one cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The total number of deaths due to lung cancer is more than the combined deaths due to prostate, breast, colon and pancreatic cancer.
Is lung cancer on the rise?
In the early 1900 it was a rare cancer. With the introduction of cigarettes in the 1930’s the lung cancer rates picked up in the 1950’s and today the commonest cause of cancer death.
This will continue to be the case until we take a stand against smoking. This is a truly preventable disease not just for lung cancer but for all tobacco related cancers.
The figures demonstrate the toll on Australians. One in five cancer deaths are due to smoking. In Australia there are 12,000 new lung cancers diagnosed every year. It is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in Australia.
Lung cancer rates in men have dropped, however they have risen for women.
Why has lung cancer risen for women?
This is an interesting trend. The number of women with lung cancer is estimated to surpass that of men in 2017.
This is because there is a lag time of 20 to 30 years from smoking exposure to development of lung cancer.
Male smoking rates have been dropping since the 1950s – a trend reflected in the reduction of male lung cancers from the 1980s onwards.
Smoking in women, however, only started to reduce around 1980. Therefore, we are expecting a peak in women diagnosed with lung cancer around now.
A survey in 2013 in Australia found that highest rate of smoking among women is between the ages of 25 and 29 (15%)
Are current drugs going through clinical trials likely to make a difference?
Lung cancer still has a very poor prognosis. The 5-year survival is 14% in Australia. Despite this many new therapies including immunotherapies have come to the market and we may see effects on survival in a few years’ time. There are multiple trials underway.
What is the best method of bringing down lung cancer death rates?
A screening programme is not the answer. The answer is completely stopping smoking in public places and at our work places, and understanding that passive smoking causes a considerable risk of cancer. We also need to educate our children so they never become smokers.
Even though we already know that cigarette smoke is a poison, a carcinogen and causes injury to 50% of its users in addition to non-users with passive exposure, it is amazing how this product is not banned from sale.
E cigarettes are becoming more popular. Again, however, this is not the answer. Surveys have found that e cigarettes are used mostly by people who already smoke anyway.
It is a less harmful poison that seems more acceptable as it is the lesser evil.
Take a stand at your workplace and social circles not to accept any forms of smoking any time.
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