Bad habits and lung diseases: how to reduce the harm from smoking?

Victor LitvinenkoNews
The doctor told why and how to reduce the harm from tobacco tar. Source: https://ru.freepik.com/author/freepik

According to the World Health Organization, about 1.6 million deaths and more than 38 million disability-adjusted life years can be attributed to indoor tobacco smoke, which affects women and children.

According to pulmonologist and thoracic surgeon Yevhen Symonets, there is an urgent need to reduce exposure to indoor tobacco smoke by applying comprehensive solutions. The doctor explained why and how the harm from tobacco tar should be reduced, as well as how alternative products that do not involve the combustion process can reduce the risk to human health.

"Recent research shows that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by tobacco smoke is significantly different from COPD associated with inflammatory airway disease. Even taking into account these data, it is important to reduce the harmful effects of indoor tobacco smoke," says Simonets. According to the pulmonologist, these changes require immediate comprehensive solutions and active participation of governments, scientific societies, and public organizations.

The presence of risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing COPD in the future is conventionally called "pre-exacerbation" of chronic lung diseases. "In the seventies, studies on this dangerous condition were widespread," the doctor notes.

"Today, such studies have become relevant again, but compared to the seventies, we have access to chest CT scans in our diagnostic arsenal, which allows us to detect signs of small airway damage in people without airway obstruction," adds Symonets.

According to the expert, this examination should be done for all smokers, as there is no treatment for the so-called "pre-exacerbation of COPD" condition. Therefore, only preventive measures to reduce the harm of smoking make sense.

Yevhen Symonets also noted that liver cancer, which is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide and is rapidly increasing in the United States, despite recent advances in prevention, continues to rise among different populations. To influence future success in the prevention and control of liver cancer, new underlying and modifiable risk factors, i.e., risks that can be eliminated must be identified.

"Several new studies conducted in Europe, Asia, and the United States suggest that air pollution with PM2.5 and NO2 particulate matter increases the risk of liver cancer. Therefore, preventive work of medical staff with smokers is a priority," Symonets said.

According to the pulmonologist, ultimatum propaganda to suddenly and permanently quit smoking is not effective. "Following the example of some countries, such as the UK, I would advise deploying a risk reduction strategy as the most progressive one," the expert notes.

According to the doctor, researchers at the British Royal College have concluded that switching from cigarettes to tobacco-heating products can significantly reduce the harm from smoking.

Mr. Symonets also said that 53 public health experts wrote a letter to the WHO in 2014, highlighting the potential of tobacco products to reduce harm, noting that these products could be one of the most important health innovations, saving hundreds of millions of lives.

Numerous studies confirm the potentially reduced risk of tobacco heating systems on human health. They clearly demonstrate that certain aerosol emissions from HTSs are significantly lower than those from cigarette smoke," says Symonets.

The doctor noted that several similar studies have also been conducted in Ukraine, with positive results. In his opinion, the potential benefits of tobacco heating systems should be considered in all risk groups. At the same time, the doctor emphasizes that the use of these products requires new research on their impact in the future.

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