There is no safe dose of tobacco!
Dear friends, especially for the Week of Giving up bad Habits, which was announced by the Ministry of Health of Russia from March 27 to April 2, we decided again to talk about the impact of smoking on the development of cancer. It seems that today no one needs to be convinced of the dangers of smoking: according to WHO, tobacco consumption annually kills more than 8 million people and causes economic damage in the amount of 1.4 trillion dollars. But the long-term war against this addiction is still not over.
We discussed the influence of smoking on the development of cancer with Vitaly Barmin, a thoracic surgeon, head of the myasthenia gravis group of the Department of Thoracoabdominal Oncosurgery of the P.A. Herzen Moscow State Medical Institute – a branch of the NMIC Radiologists of the Ministry of Health of Russia.
-Why does smoking pose a serious threat to health?
-First of all, this is the result of exposure to carcinogens, resins and aggressive hot smoke on the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract. Unfortunately, few people know that smoking causes not only the development of lung cancer, but also at least cancer of more than 20 localizations. The fact is that these dangerous carcinogens are carried with the blood flow throughout the body and affect all our organs and tissues. Among the main targets are the lungs, mouth and nose, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, gastrointestinal organs, mammary gland, kidneys, ureters and even the cervix. By the way, a study was conducted that demonstrated that in women who smoke, mucus from the cervical canal of the cervix contains a large amount of tobacco smoke carcinogens.
-How long does it take the body to recover after a person has quit smoking?
-I cannot say that the body of heavy smokers will recover completely. However, there is convincing evidence that every 5 years of quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing cancer by 7% and this is an undeniable advantage, in addition to the overall improvement in the well-being of patients. With all the patients who have been diagnosed with lung cancer and whom I have operated on, I definitely say this moment. Smoking is not only the cause of the development of the disease itself. Unfortunately, if the patient continues to smoke, the risk of relapse increases significantly. In addition, do not forget that it potentially reduces the effectiveness of the antitumor treatment.
-That is, if a person smokes and finds out about his diagnosis, then he immediately needs to quit smoking?
-If the patient is planning to perform lung surgery, then we do not recommend quitting smoking before surgery. The fact is that the smoker’s body has been used to receiving nicotine for many years, and tobacco smoke is a natural factor for him for easier sputum discharge. But, a week after the operation, we recommend that the patient quit smoking necessarily. This is one of the conditions for a favorable postoperative period and, most importantly, the prognosis of the course of the disease.
-Are alternative types of tobacco delivery so harmless?
-The electronic cigarettes in question were invented in the early 2000s. Many people began to use them as a fashion accessory, combining smoking ordinary cigarettes with them. Some believe that e-cigarettes are harmless and even similar to medical inhalations. Why? Inhaling non-hot smoke or steam, people think that it does not carry any harmful substances with it. This is quite a serious misconception. The fact is that organic substances that come into contact with a spiral heated to 200-300 degrees in an electronic cigarette undergo incomplete oxidation and incomplete combustion. And, unfortunately, when using an electronic cigarette, a person gets even more harmful effects, namely, by-products of incomplete combustion, heavy metals, which is a carcinogen for our body.
-Hookahs are very common among young people today. How harmless are they?
– Everyone thinks that smoke passing through a liquid substance, for example, water, is completely purified, and a person inhales already harmless mixtures. That’s not so. No filtration takes place, the liquid only allows you to reduce the temperature of the hot smoke and that’s all. In addition, hookah flasks are not disinfected. This leads, among other things, to the subsidence and spread through them of the human papillomavirus, which, in turn, is the cause of the development of precancerous diseases.
-About the dangers of passive smoking. Why do other non-smokers and especially children seriously suffer from it?
-Do not think that the influence of passive smoking is exaggerated. According to WHO, more than 1 million people in the world die due to passive smoking. As for children, this figure hovers at the level of 65,000 people. And as we can see, this is not a harmless effect at all. After all, a person inhales the same tobacco smoke containing resins and carcinogenic substances.
-Can tobacco addiction be transmitted genetically?
-Quite a lot of work has already been devoted to this issue, and not only to the effects of tobacco, but also other substances that affect our behavior and condition. Indeed, there is such a group of people. Another thing is that we do not have screening studies that would prove that this particular person is predisposed to bad habits. I urge you not to experience this dependence on yourself, because in the case of a genetic predisposition, it will be much more difficult to quit smoking.
-What advice as an oncologist can you give to all smokers?
-Now there is a week of giving up bad habits. This is a great reason to quit smoking once and for all. By the way, let me remind you that a few years ago the Ministry of Health of Russia was among the recipients of the World Health Organization award for outstanding contribution to the fight against tobacco consumption. Considerable efforts have been made in our country to tighten the national anti-smoking legislation. In addition, in recent years, the Ministry of Health has expanded the range of assistance to people who want to quit smoking, including the creation of a special hotline for those who want to give up tobacco. By calling 8 (800) 200-0-200, citizens of the Russian Federation can receive consultations around the clock and free of charge on healthy lifestyle, abandonment of bad habits, prevention of addictions, as well as a new coronavirus infection. In addition, be sure to check your body for the presence of any pathology, including malignant. Smokers are exactly the category of patients who especially need to monitor the health of their lungs and undergo CT once a year. Remember that cancer detected at an early stage is curable. Be healthy!
Press Service of the NMIC of Radiology of the Ministry of Health of Russia