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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Expert links tobacco use to cancers of the mouth

Former Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Professor Onatolu Odukoya, has urged Nigerians to be wary of tobacco use, irrespective of its form, due to its strong link with cancers of the mouth.

Professor Odukoya, who gave the charge at a valedictory lecture to mark the sent-forth of Professor Jonathan Lawoyin, at the College of Medicine, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, declared that evidences indicate that tobacco, whether in the form of snuff, cigar or cigarette, contained a cancer-causing substance called nitrosamine.

Unfortunately, he stated that a lot of nitrosamine was present in palm wine, thus the need for Nigerian researchers to verify whether drinking palm wine could lead to individuals having cancers of the mouth.

Professor Odukoya, who described cancers of the mouth as the sixth commonest type of cancer worldwide, stated “tobacco alone might not be linked with oral cancer in Nigeria, we should endeavour to do more studies that will establish a strong association between oral cancer and other causative factors of cancer.”

While pointing out alcohol, infections, radiation, HIV and injury as some other causative factors for cancers of the mouth, Professor Odukoya emphasised the need for individuals to eat well because malnutrition rendered individuals more susceptible to different disease, including cancers.

He stated: “we have found out that vitamins E, A and C can help to prevent the development of cancer, so the whole idea is that if you eat a balanced diet, you will be at a better advantage in not having this cancer.”

The expert, who stated that the commonest part of the mouth affected by cancer was the gum, lip and tongue, urged people to be watchful for any abnormal white or red patches in the mouth, a change in voice or hoarseness, sore throat that does not subside or pain or swelling in the mouth or neck that does not subside as they could be suggestive of an early stage of oral cancer.

Professor Odukoya said it was important that government supported more research into treatment and prevention of cancers of the mouth, adding that this would enable scientists to go into communities to screen and ensure early detections of this cancer.

According to him, “once cancer starts, it can be stopped and so everybody must get screened to ensure early detection and appropriate treatment instituted.”

Earlier, the Provost of the College of Medicine, Professor Olusegun Akinyinka, represented by the deputy provost, Professor Oluremi Ogunseyinde, described Professor Lawoyin, the first dean of the Faculty of Dentistry of the college, as a true Nigerian who gave his best to both the development of his profession and his fatherland.

Sade Oguntola via