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World No Tobacco Day 2021: The Connection Between Smoking And Lung Cancer

World No Tobacco Day: Tobacco consumption kills around 8 million people a year around the world. India is the second largest consumer of tobacco globally, and accounts for nearly one-sixth of the world's tobacco-related deaths.

World No Tobacco Day 2021: The Connection Between Smoking And Lung Cancer

World No Tobacco Day is observed on every 31st May


  1. Commit to quit is the theme for world no tobacco day 2021
  2. World no tobacco day creates awareness about dangers of tobacco use
  3. Smoking is responsible for a higher risk of lung cancer

Every year on May 31, the WHO observes World No Tobacco Day to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco. This year's theme is 'Commit to Quit'. Quitting tobacco will certainly help one improve their quality, and length of their life and also enhance chances of success of for any medical treatments they may undergo.

Smoking and the increasing burden of lung cancer

Tobacco can cause problems in many forms. The most severe of which is lung cancer. Lung cancer largely affects the elderly and those with a substantial cigarette smoking history. Tobacco remains one of the leading causes of death in men worldwide and when both men and women are accounted for, it is the second leading cause of death and disability. Around 80-90% patients diagnosed with lung cancer have history of tobacco smoking. Tobacco smoke contains cancer causing agents that damage important genes that control the growth of cells and cause them to grow abnormally which can result in development of tumor. There are over 70 known carcinogens in tobacco which damage the DNA, brain cells and lungs and airways.

Also read: World No Tobacco Day 2021: 5 Ways To Resist Smoking Cravings

Diagnosis and treatment options for Lung Cancer

As one of the most common cancers worldwide, lung cancer impacts approximately 2.1 million people each year. The two main types of lung cancer are Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is by far the most common, for every 10 patients with Lung Cancer, 8 or 9 have NSCLC. While SCLC affects 1 or 2 patients for every 10 patients suffering from lung cancer.

Also read: World No Tobacco Day 2021: Second-Hand Smoke Can Have A Devastating Impact On Health, Here's How

It is imperative to note that at times, conventional lung cancer treatment that kills cancer cells can also affect normal cells, resulting in undesirable side effects. Whereas targeted therapy can help reduce damage to healthy cells. It focuses only on the cancer cells by interrupting their growth and how they function. It is used in an advanced stage of lung cancer and is usually administered in oral form.

Another approach of treatment that can be taken is immunotherapy. Immunotherapy uses the body's own immune system to fight cancer. It uses precision medicine to stimulate the body's immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.


World No Tobacco Day 2021: Smoking is a modifiable risk factor for lung cancer
Photo Credit: iStock

Prevention is the need of the hour

There are many causes of lung cancer, including occupational risk, environmental factors such as pollution, and genetics. While we have no way of knowing who will develop lung cancer, there are certain things one can do to reduce risk of contracting it.

One of the best things to do to prevent lung cancer is to avoid smoking. Lung cancer prevention includes actions that one can take to lower chances of developing lung cancer. Fortunately, smoking is the most preventable cause of lung cancer.

Also read: Expert Tells How Smoking Can Deteriorate Your Health In More Ways Than One

People who quit smoking cut their risk of lung cancer by half. Other steps that an individual can take to reduce the risk of lung cancer are maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, decreasing exposure to carcinogens and to secondhand tobacco smoke for every individual in this world has the right to breathe.

(Dr. Shyam Aggarwal, Senior Consultant, Head of Department of Medical Oncology, Sir Gangaram Hospital, Delhi.)

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