Tobacco is the most common cause of death due to cancer and half of the deaths could be prevented if detected early and treated properly, according to Dr. V. Muralkrishna, Managing Director of Mahatma Gandhi Cancer Hospital & Research Institute (MGCHRI).

He was speaking at an awareness programme conducted jointly against tobacco consumption by The Hindu and MGCHRI here at the Naval Dockyard on Tuesday.

Dr. Muralikrishna, a surgical oncologist, said one could prevent cancer by giving up tobacco and alcohol, doing regular exercises, observing personal hygiene, following a balanced diet, turning vegetarian, avoiding long and direct sun exposure and opting for vaccination.

‘Stop production'

Calling for stopping production and consumption of tobacco in any form, he said that one should consult a specialist on noticing symptoms such as change in bowel or bladder habits, unusual bleeding or discharge, thickening of breast tissue or a new lump, indigestion, significant changes in moles or warts, nagging cough or sores that do not heal.

Dr. Muralikrishna said tobacco use was a main risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of deaths in the world and the epidemic was shifting towards the developing world, where 80 per cent tobacco-related deaths would occur within a few decades.

He said it was a matter of grave concern that tobacco consumption was growing among women and youth.

Counselling

Rear Admiral G.S. Pabby, Admiral Superintendent of Naval Dockyard, later released a brochure brought out by MGHCRI to spread basic information on cancer. In his speech, he thanked The Hindu and MGHCRI for their joint initiative, and declared that the Naval Dockyard henceforth would create an environment for the employees to quit smoking through regular counselling.

Dr. K.C. Patro, consultant radiation oncologist at MGCHRI, said the world had one billion smokers of whom five million die every year. He said 75 per cent of smokers had the desire to quit but only few of them were successful in keeping away from smoking.

Describing the frightening effects of tobacco, he said nicotine replacement drugs and patches were available to overcome the urge of smoking in the initial stage after giving up smoking. He said after quitting smoking, the good effects get reflected on the body immediately.

The Hindu Regional General Manager T.V. Suresh welcomed and Surgeon Captain V. Raman Gopal Patnaik, Principal Medical Officer of Naval Dockyard presided.