Almost half of Kumbh Mela participants face risk of oral cancer, says study

The study, conducted by Indian Dental Association (IDA), Government of Maharashtra and the Harvard School of Public Health, highlights the danger of oral cancer caused by tobacco in India. As many as 5,302 participants were examined and 50.3 per cent of the participants were using tobacco products. About 48.4 per cent of participants were found to have pre-malignant lesions in clinical oral examination. Majority of participants were in the age group of 20-60 years

50 per cent of Kumbh Mela participants face risk of oral cancer, says study

A recent study, collectively conducted by Indian Dental Association (IDA), Government of Maharashtra and the Harvard School of Public Health, has highlighted the danger of oral cancer caused by tobacco in India. The study has revealed that 48.5 per cent participants of 2015 Nashik Kumbh Mela faced a major risk of Oral Cancer.

For the study, as many as 5,302 participants were examined and 50.3 per cent of the participants were using tobacco products. About 48.4 per cent of participants were found to have pre-malignant lesions (tissue in which oral cancer is more likely to occur) in clinical oral examination. Majority of participants were in the age group of 20-60 years (81.1%).

On the banks of the Godavari River, Nashik hosted Kumbh Mela in 2015. People from different demography within India come to participate in Kumbh Mela. This massive congregation provided a good opportunity to study the state of oral health in country. People were screened at various centres in Kumbh Mela. Clinical oral examination was done with the help of disposable mouth mirror and probe and under natural daylight conditions. Interestingly, in male participants, the proportion of pre-malignant lesions was higher. Around 80.5 per cent male participants, out of the total examined participants, had pre-malignant lesions.

The pre-malignant lesions were reported more in participants who consumed tobacco, alcohol and areca nut. The study also showed the link between consumption of tobacco and alcohol. Study indicates that tobacco and alcohol increases the risk of hypertension and diabetes.

“Tobacco consumption is the major reason behind oral cancer in India. Through this project, we have detected cause of the oral cancer and substantial data has been collected to design the preventive methods. To reduce the danger of oral cancer, awareness campaigns should be supplemented by good policies. After this study, we need to make stringent laws for tobacco. We are going to present the findings before Health and Family Welfare Minister JP Nadda and would request him to implement necessary policies to prevent oral cancer,” said Dr Ashok Dhobale, Secretary General at IDA.

Speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, who is a known crusader against anti-tobacco campaign professor and surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital said, “Out of the 48.5 per cent, those who have pre-malignant lesions, as many as 10 per cent are likely to develop cancer in future. India has formulated rules to curb tobacco consumption, but now it’s a high time that we should implement those policies.”

He further added, “As many as 90 per cent of the oral cancer cases are linked to tobacco consumption. People have a misconception that chewing tobacco is less harmful than smoking. But both are equally harmful.”