Though Beedi has less tobacco than regular cigarettes, the nicotine content is higher which makes it as a causative factor for gastric cancer apart from that of lungs and the oral cavity, said a study carried out in a Kerala district town.
The study, done in Karunagappally in the Kollam coastal district on 65,553 men aged 30-84 in the 1990-2009 period found that gastric cancer risk increased with the number of 'beedis' smoked.
‘Risk of cancers of the mouth, respiratory tract and upper digestive tract is
higher among beedi smokers’
Conducted by city-based Regional Cancer Center, the study has been published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology
Those who began smoking 'beedis' before the age of 18 and between 18-22 years had a relative risk of 2.0 and 1.8 respectively for developing cancer of the stomach compared with those who never smoked.
P. Jayalekshmi, principal author of the study, said that many epidemiological studies earlier found that beedi-smoking caused cancers of the mouth, respiratory tract and upper digestive tract.
"The present study conclusively proves that beedi-smoking causes gastric cancer. Beedi smoking is not a poor man's comfort but his misery," said Jayalekshmi.
Center's director and study co-author Paul Sebastian said that targeted awareness about the harms of 'beedi' and tobacco among vulnerable groups, coupled with prohibitive taxes to curb their consumption, was necessary in the light of the findings.
"Cases of cancer, especially those which can be prevented such as caused by tobacco use, are on the increase in Kerala. Immediate steps are needed to redress the issue," said Sebastian.