Thiruvananthapuram | Beedi, which has for long been known as a source of cancers of the lung and oral cavity, is also a causative risk factor for gastric malignancy, says a study by the Regional Cancer Centre here. Beedi smokers have an elevated gastric cancer (GC) risk as compared to ‘never smokers’, according to the first cohort study on the subject in the country, a top RCC official said.
The study, ‘Gastric cancer risk in relation to tobacco use and alcohol drinking in Kerala, India’, recently carried out at Karunagappally in the coastal district of Kollam covered 65,553 men between the ages of 30 and 84 years during the 1990-2009 period. RCC Director Dr Paul Sebastian, also the Principal Investigator and co-author of the study, said, A detailed analysis conducted as part of the current study revealed beedi as a major causative factor for gastric cancers.
The study explored at length the association between GC and various types of tobacco and alcohol use. Beedi smoking was found to increase the risk of GC among never cigarette smokers more evidently with a relative risk (RR) of 2.2, he said. Earlier, studies in Karunagappally have proven that beedi is a causative factor for larynx, pharynx, and oesophagus, he said.
He batted for the creation of targeted awareness about the harms of beedi smoking and tobacco use among vulnerable groups coupled with WHO-recommended rate of taxes to curb consumption and stricter enforcement of tobacco control laws in light of these findings. World Health Organisation has said that tobacco taxes should be to the tune of 65-70 per cent of retail prices.
The burden of cancers, especially preventable cancers such as those from tobacco use, are on the increase in Kerala and immediate measures are needed for the well-being of our people, especially the poorer sections, Sebastian added.
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