Citizens Hospital thoracic surgery team spreads message on tobacco's dangers and calls for greater attention to importance of prevention
28 May 2014 - According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one billion people will die from tobacco-related causes in the 21st century, making tobacco use one of the world's gravest public health epidemics. Its global reach expands daily. Sadly, nearly 80% of smokers worldwide live in low and middle-income countries. As a result, financial costs from tobacco use create gargantuan barriers to world economic equality. In observance of World No Tobacco Day, Citizens Hospital inspires all Indians unite in a stance against tobacco for sake of the nation's future health and prosperity. Let us raise our collective voices and share the message about preventing tobacco's spread.
"Confronting tobacco use in India requires that we address the problem the way we would address any health epidemic. We need to see it as a high stakes concern for the entire country and make changes starting now. If Indians continue to use tobacco at current rates, the health-related and economic costs in the future will be huge," said Dr. Sai Yendamuri, Head of the Thoracic Surgery Department at Citizens Hospital.
Tobacco smoke contains 4,000 chemicals. At least 250 can cause health problems. More than 50 can cause cancer. While most commonly associated with lung cancer, tobacco can cause cancer in the cervix, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, throat, mouth, voice box, esophagus and blood. It stains teeth and leads to gum disease. Studies link it to heart disease, stroke, multiple breathing disorders and eye problems. Perhaps no substance on earth contributes to such a wide range of debilitating ailments.
Tobacco's detrimental reach goes beyond its users. Second-hand or passive smoke, defined as smoke inhaled involuntarily as a result of being around smokers, drastically diminishes health for hundreds of millions of people worldwide, especially children and unborn babies. Because their lungs are still developing and they breathe at higher rates than adults, children exposed to tobacco smoke experience increased rates of asthma, ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and a host of other health problems. Women who smoke while pregnant put their babies at risk of premature birth, low birth weight and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
Outside of the health-related costs, tobacco creates tremendous financial costs. For individuals, the cost of purchasing cigarettes amounts to staggering figures, easily in excess of Rs. 30,000/- per year if you smoke one pack per day. For companies, smoking imposes costs related to lost productivity, excess employee break time, higher risk of injuries on the job and fire hazards, further evidence we have a collective interest in cutting tobacco use as a nation.
"Screening for lung cancer plays a vital role in both increasing treatment success rates and containing treatment costs," noted Dr. Yendamuri. "If you have smoked and are over 40," he says, "you are likely a candidate for screening." Together with internists, radiologists, oncologists and pathologists, the Citizens Hospital thoracic surgery team has implemented a lung cancer screening program that follows criteria from the National Lung Screening Trial, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
Medical technology and clinical advancement make it possible to treat tobacco-related health issues more aggressively and more successfully than ever before. Investment in new treatments and cures should continue vigorously. Though as physicians, the thoracic surgery team at Citizens regards teaching tobacco cessation with the same level of importance as treating disease. We need to turn the investment focus not just on curing problems but on preventing them.
On World No Tobacco Day, the message regarding tobacco use needs to lead with overtones of prevention and cessation. "In treating patients for breathing problems, I can offer medicines, surgical procedures or breathing devices. But I always tell them about the importance of not using tobacco. And when I encounter a smoker, I always tell my patient quitting is as important as any treatment I have to offer," added Dr. Vijay Kumar Chennamchetty, Consultant Pulmonologist at Citizens Hospital.
About Citizens Hospital
Citizens Hospital provides protocol-driven healthcare based on the latest medical evidence across a broad range of medical specialties for inpatients and outpatients. It coordinates care in a way that emphasizes the needs of patients first. Citizens Hospital values quality and invests in technology proven for clinical effectiveness. Its medical staff consists of experts recognized not only for their clinical abilities but their ability to work as a team to get the best outcomes for patients and extend top-level care with compassion. The hospital places a high emphasis on exceeding rigorous quality benchmarks related to safety and performance. It has struck strategic partnerships with firms possessing similar objectives. These aspects of Citizens Hospital combine to drive its primary mission of bringing the world's top healthcare standards to India.
The Citizens Hospital Department of Thoracic Surgery is the first surgical unit in Hyderabad dedicated to the care of non-cardiac thoracic surgical patients. The unit has been established as part of a Center of Excellence in Chest Medicine at Citizens Hospital. The center aims to provide and promote top world standards for the care of Indian with benign or malignant thoracic disease.
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