Onco Life Center Media Article 16
The Ugly side of smoking
The world is one big smoking room. The latest data available from anti-smoking advocacy group global.tobaccofreekids.org shows that the world’s more than one billion smokers puffed away 5.6 trillion cigarettes in 2014.
These smokers paid more than US$744 bills (RM3.3 trillion) for all the cigarettes they consumed.
Smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer. It has been estimated that worldwide, the number of people with cancer will exceed 20 million by 2030. However, there are no statistics to say how big a proportion of them are lung cancer cases caused by smoking.
But other data from the American Cancer Society shows that there were an estimated 2.9 million new cases of lung, bronchial and trachea cancer in 2012. That year, about 1.6 million succumbed to the disease.
Apart from the lives lost, the economic costs are also substantial. While exact numbers cannot be established, it is believed to run into billions of dollars. The costs range from loss of economic output resulting from missed work and premature death in medical and non-medical expenses.
For instance, it has been estimated that Europe incurred a €75 bill (RM362.7 bill) just in lost productivity resulting from cancer deaths in 2008.
Malaysia is facing the same challenges. Despite the heightened awareness of the dangers posed by smoking, millions continue to light up regularly. A National Health Morbidity Survey shows that 22.8% of the population aged 15 and above are smokers.
It is estimated that 90,000 to 100,000 people are living with cancer at any one time. An average of 21,773 Malaysians is diagnosed with cancer every year, according to the National Cancer Registry. However, it is believed that another 10,000 cases go unregistered.
As we mark Lung Cancer Awareness Month this month, health experts have voiced concern about the contagion effect of the smoking habit and the costs to the economy.
Lung cancer is highly prevalent among both men and women. Dr Christina Ng, founder of Empowered – The Cancer Advocacy of Malaysia, says it is most common among people in their 70s and rare among those aged 40 and below. Smokers are not the only people at risk. Ng added that non-smokers who live with them have a 20% to 30% chance of developing lung cancer as well.
“There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. The only way to fully protect non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke is to ban smoking in all public and indoor spaces, thus making them smoke-free areas,” Ng says.
The disease has a big impact on the quality of life of the patient, says National Cancer Society Malaysia president Dr Saunthari Somasundaram. It also has a high mortality rate, she says.
Lung cancer is the number one cancer arising in the Malaysia.