September 17, 2021 | Written By: Azmani Fauzi
"Cigarettes cause lung cancer”, this warning has been posted on every cigarette box you buy in Malaysia. This slogan is not the only thing written on the box. An image of black lungs damaged by cigarettes is also printed on the box and yet, there are people who still do not care as if it were fake and a joke.
Maybe smoking is not the only sole cause of lung cancer, but be aware that smoking is one of the leading causes of this cancer. 87 percent of lung cancer deaths is due to smoking! Are you still not worried? Cigarettes are also one of the major risks of cancer of other organs. Let's dive into the facts that are written in this article to find out all the facts regarding cigarettes and lung cancer.
Lung Cancer Epidemiology
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, an estimation of 9.6 million cancer cases were reported worldwide and lung cancer was in the first place with a total of 2.09 million cases and in the same year also stated that 1.76 million deaths occurred from lung cancer alone making this death toll is the most compared to other cancers.
Cigarettes, which are the leading cause of lung cancer of non-small cell type accounts for 80-90 percent of deaths due to this cancer. It is said that men who smoke are 23 times more at risk to develop lung cancer. It is sad and unfortunate for the passive smokers out there who are exposed to cigarette smoke in their home or office because the risk for them to develop lung cancer increases up to 20-30 percent.
From the WHO report, in Malaysia there are about 10.7 percent of cases of lung cancer in 2018. This cancer is the most common disease faced by men with an estimation of 22.5 percent in the population.
Why Does Cancer Happen?
A lot of people are aware of the dangers of cigarettes, but not many take note what exactly these toxic substances do to the body and how it leads to the development of cancer.
In the human body, there are millions of DNA that build up the body and allow us to function properly. This protein is inherited from parents and acts as a carrier of the genetic code. There are also various genetic groups we inherit, one of which is the cancer-preventing gene. These genes can be weakened by chemicals found in cigarettes such as benzene, polonium-210 and nitrosamines. When this gene is damaged, then there is no more protective barrier against cancer, this is one of the lung cancer risk factors. Find out if you're nicotine-dependent with this quiz!
Cigarette smoke contains hidden poison as a result of the reaction of tobacco and other chemicals. This poison weakens the smoker’s immune system without them realizing it. When immunity is weak, which other cells will function against cancer cells to prevent them from continuing to multiply and spread? Thus, cancer cells become stronger and dominate the lungs causing cancer to develop. Not only cancer, but germs also can easily infect the lungs. That is why smokers are prone to lung infections.
Toxins from cigarettes can affect the excretory system. When the excretory process itself is affected, the removal of toxins from the body becomes disrupted and these toxins will continue to accumulate and affect the organs, especially the lungs.
Are All Smokers At Risk?
Each cigarette you inhale carries a lot of consequences. Whether you smoke one stick or a box a day, both increase the risk of getting the illness even at different rates. Smoking for a longer period can give a significant impact on your overall health. For example, those who smoke one pack per day for 40 years are more at risk than those who smoke two packs a day but only for 20 years. According to a source from American Association of Thoracic Surgery (AATS), those aged 50-79 years and smoked 30 pack years are at high risk for getting lung cancer. What is pack year and how to calculate it? Pack year is the number of cigarettes you smoked during your period as an active smoker. The following is the calculation formula:
Number of boxes / packs of cigarettes per day x Number of years of smoking = Number of Pack years.
For example, you smoke one box a day for 20 years, then you reduce to half a box a day for 10 years and then you smoke one box a day for another 20 years. This is how your pack year is calculated:
(1 box x 20 years) + (½ box x 10 years) + (1 box x 20 years) = (20 + 5 + 20) = 45 pack years .
45 pack years means you have passed 30 pack years. Higher pack year means you are at a higher risk of getting lung cancer. However, that does not mean you can smoke for only 20 years, then quit and you are considered safe from cancer. You still have a risk of getting cancer and there are other factors to consider.
Now the main question is how to reduce the risk of cancer? The easiest way, quit smoking now. It is not too late to stop now and you can look at the changes that occur in your lungs after smoking.
Signs of Lung Cancer
Maybe you are starting to worry about your condition right now and you might want to know how to identify the signs and symptoms that you may have cancer? Here are some common symptoms experienced by someone with lung cancer. However, these symptoms does not mean you are having cancer and further examination at the hospital must be performed before the cancer diagnosis can be made.
Cough lasting up to months and progressively worsen
Repeated bacterial infections of the lungs
Pain when breathing or coughing
Shortness of breath
Less energetic and get tired quickly
Loss of appetite
Sudden loss of weight
If you have these symptoms, please seek medical attention for follow-up examination and treatment. These cancer symptoms appear according to lung cancer stage. Do not let your symptoms get worse because the life expectancy of stage 4 lung cancer patients is only a few years. Treatment of lung cancer has been widely introduced either through medical therapy or surgery. Therefore, we encourage you to start screening from the beginning because modern medical technology has been able to treat this cancer at least preventing the cancer from continuing to spread.
You can see the effects of smoking, not only it damages the lungs, it can also kill you slowly. There are many people out there who are still unaware of the dangers of smoking. Some may even be proud to hold a cigarette in their hand. Do not regret when you have lung cancer in the future because of your own selfish act in the past. It is better to stop now than suffering later. We suggest you adhere to and comply with the advice given by certified experts to get the best health for a brighter future. Speak to a doctor to get help quitting smoking today!
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