Shisha smoking can cause mouth cancer –Dental experts warn Nigerians

Smoking of Shisha, dental experts have cautioned, can cause cancer of the mouth due to the elevated levels of cancer-causing agents it contains.
The advice was given on Saturday, in a statement jointly signed by Professor Omolara Uti, Dr. Jumoke Effiom, Dr. Abdul Warith Akinshipo and Dr. Ernest Aforka of the Faculty of Dental Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, in commemoration of the World Oral Health Day.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the World Oral Health Day is marked annually on March 20, with this year’s celebration themed, “Be Proud of Your Mouth”.
Shisha is a form of tobacco smoking that has become fashionable in the society, with many who do not smoke cigarettes embracing it. It is considered a better alternative to cigarettes and based on research, originated from Persia and India centuries ago.
It is known variously as hookah, narghile, argileh, waterpipe, goza or hubble bubble smoking.
The apparatus which is used to inhale the smoke consists of a water pipe with a chamber for smoke, a bowl, a pipe and a hose. When in use, charcoal is burned in the pipe which heats a specially-prepared tobacco mixture and creates the smoke that is filtered through water.
The dental experts said that smoking of shisha was becoming common in the society, noting that the use of tobacco whether in smoked or smokeless forms was the major known risk factor for mouth cancer.
According to them, tobacco products contain chemicals like tar that irritates the lining of the mouth when they burn and cause changes in the DNA of cells lining the mouth, leading to oral cancer.
“In fact, 60 per cent of oral cancers are caused by a combination of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption,” they said.
They noted that the Human papillomavirus infection, poor oral health and gum disease could also cause oral cancer, noting that paint or industrial chemicals could increase the chances of having mouth cancer.
The experts further said that mouth cancer could occur in any part of the mouth, adding that it was the eleventh most common cancer worldwide that occurs in the head and neck region.
“In Nigeria, a minimum of 1,100 people were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2012 and about 750 people with oral cancer died that year.
“This is a very conservative figure based on the lack of accurate data.
“They occur more in men than in women and although it can occur at any age, they are most common after the age of 40 with a peak age of 60,” they said.
The experts noted that survival rate of oral cancer was low with less than 50 per cent of patients surviving after five years, and added that early detection increases the chances of survival to 80 per cent.
They attributed poor survival rate to late presentation of patients to the hospital, noting that many patients do not pay attention to the early signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
According to them, the symptoms of the disease include unhealed mouth sore, lump in the mouth, unusual bleeding and white or red patches on the gums, tongue or mouth.
Others are changes in speech or difficulty pronouncing words, loose teeth, difficulty or pain chewing or swallowing, mass or lump in the neck, chronic sore throat, hoarseness and pain in the mouth or ears.
They, however, said experiencing these symptoms does not necessarily mean one has cancer, but that those symptoms could be due to other reasons.
The experts said oral cancer treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, adding that the treatment would enable the patient to live well and long.
They further advised against smoking, reduction in alcohol consumption, and regular dental check-up to prevent mouth cancer.
An appeal was, however, made to the Federal Government to enforce the prohibition of sale or access to tobacco products for persons below 18 years, and also regulations in the use of industrial chemicals.
They said safety protocols for workers in industrial complexes should also be enforced.
The recommended that healthcare workers at all levels should be trained to recognise the early symptoms of oral cancer and promptly refer such patients appropriately for specialist care.

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