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Public Health

Air pollution linked to high risk of oral cancer: Study

You may be wrong if you still believe that oral cancer is only caused by smoking, tobacco use, liquor and betel nut. Because a recent study in Taiwan says that air pollution too could lead to a high risk of oral cancer.
The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, has literally turned the tables on the conventional wisdom we still adhere to when it comes to the causes of oral cancer. Its findings are not what we have believed all along.
It says higher levels of air pollution may also be responsible for the cancer of the lips, tongue, cheeks, mouth and palate. Which means, the air around us is more harmful that we assume with risks more dangerous than only respiratory problems.

Before diving into the study, it’s good to have a look at some numbers –

  • As per the WHO, air pollution causes an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide per year
  • It also says that, nearly half of around 6,57,000 patients of oral cancer who’re diagnosed annually across the globe with die

Details of the study
The study clearly links higher levels of air pollution to a greater risk of oral cancer. And if it’s to be believed, this calls for more safety measures on part of us in dealing with air pollutant. As per the study, apart from the conventional list of causes, oral cancer may also be caused by the heightened levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (but to a lesser extent).
We have reasons to believe the findings of the study because it has used a large sample size, and it’s also the first in the world to link oral cancer with PM2.5. The findings may appear to some an attempt to create panic, but they are not an isolated case as there is a growing evidence linking the adverse effects of higher levels of air pollution on human health.
While it’s widely known that PM2.5 is harmful to respiratory and cardiovascular health, our exposures to heavy metals and emissions from petrochemical plants can also lead to the development of the disease. When analysed in this light, we can easily see how air pollution can harm us more than we think.

Some of key things that can be corroborated form the study may include –

  • There is no safe level of air pollution when it comes to our overall health
  • High air pollution is more dangerous can causing a greater risk of the lungs, asthma and dementia
  • The study has collected data from 66 air quality monitoring stations, analysed the health records of more than 4,80,000 men aged 40, and found a 11,617 cases of mouth cancer
  • The study clearly establishes how people who’re exposed to the highest levels of PM2.5 have a greater risk of oral cancer
  • The study has also found that men exposed to higher level of air pollution are 43% more likely to develop oral cancer than those exposed to average level of pollution
  • The study also observed exposure of men to higher ozone levels and found in them a greater risk of developing oral cancer

Clearly, air pollution is now a big menace, something we can’t afford paying lip service to. The time has come when drastic measures needed from governments across the world to reduce emissions and curb carbon in the atmosphere. Only this can lead to a safer world where a quality life can be lived.

Reference Links:

  1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/air-pollution-linked-to-high-risk-of-oral-cancer-study/articleshow/66164807.cms
  2. https://swachhindia.ndtv.com/air-pollution-journal-of-investigative-medicine-oral-cancer-particulate-matter-26472/

Author Bio:
Irshad Alam is a writer with experience in oral care. He shares information about dental health and treatments. You can benefit form his posts to boost your understanding of things related to dental health. He also advises on teeth braces price, but you must consult only a dentist for more knowledge in this regard.

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Public Health

Ayushman Bharat Yojana : Decoded

Last month saw the launch of the Ayushman Bharat Yojana by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. It is a bold and ambitious step in the history of healthcare reforms in the nation. For the first time, a government has gone beyond lip sympathy on such a large scale. So what is this scheme all about and how can you participate, let’s discuss this in the next few paragraphs.

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Healthcare Technology Public Health

Clean Drinking Water lessons from China and how the use of technology can help prevent water borne diseases

A recent article in the BBC talked about a list of 10 cities that would run out of water soon. Second on that list is the garden city, Bangalore. It is not surprising that this issue has come up considering the pollution of the surface water in Bangalore.

India ranks 120th among 128 nations on the state of the water resources. Almost 200 districts in India have ground water that is unfit for human consumption. Waterborne diseases kill almost 100,000 people in India annually and have led to the spread of diseases like Cholera, Diarrhoea, Filariasis and Malaria.

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Medical Education Public Health

The challenge of Diabetes in India and how to manage the condition: A detailed analysis

India has been rightly called as the “Diabetes Capital of the World” in recent times. Truly, with more than 50-60 million people suffering from Type-2 diabetes, it is not only an alarming fact that raises a lot of eyebrows but a matter of grave concern for both the healthcare authorities of the country and the nation as a whole.

Though Diabetes Mellitus is one of the most discussed ailments all across the globe but the awareness in India, is relatively low.That is why here an attempt is made to bring to you the most significant facts related to this condition and preventive measures that should be adopted by every diabetic to lead a normal and healthy life.

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Public Health

Healthcare industry in India may need an accessibility check

Disability activists urge the healthcare industry to take a note of the rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 before it is too late. The healthcare industry in India has systematically ignored people with disabilities and their specific needs. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say that the healthcare industry has not just ignored people with disabilities, but it has actively discriminated against them.

Many of you will find my opening remarks ironic, perhaps a bit provocative and baseless, but stay with me and you will discover the truth in it. All people with disabilities, like their non-disabled counterparts, too, have the same general health care needs as everyone else, and therefore need access to mainstream health care services.  Having said that, they find extremely difficult to access healthcare services in India.
Let me substantiate this by giving a few examples:
• Inaccessible built-environment: Most hospitals and healthcare centers do not comply with accessibility standards. Just have a look around and you will notice a battery of healthcare facilities including hospitals, OPD clinics, diagnostics centers, laboratories completely ignoring the accessibility standards for built-environment. Except for a handful, most facilities don’t have appropriate ramps or an accessible toilet to aid persons using wheelchair.
• Insensitive staff: While the healthcare professionals are competent in diagnosing and treating disease. The staff across the administration, nursing, practitioners and so on are often insensitive to the needs and rights of persons with disability. According to the World Health Organization: People with disabilities were more than twice as likely to report finding healthcare provider skills inadequate to meet their needs, four times more likely to report being treated badly and nearly three times more likely to report being denied care. As a blind person myself, I can’t imagine going to a hospital alone for a quick check as my request for assistance is often reciprocated either with uncomfortable arguments around their inability to provide assistance or pity on my perceived “unfortunate condition”.
• Inaccessible equipment’s: Most healthcare facilities don’t have medical equipment’s which are accessible for persons with disabilities. Imagine, the most ubiquitous examination-beds in every doctor’s OPDs are at a height where a person in a wheelchair can’t transfer themselves easily. Almost all large hospitals and branded Clinics often don’t have something as basic as a weighing scale for a person using a wheelchair. Extend this argument to other sophisticated equipment’s such as the X-ray, MRI etc. and you will realize how profound the problem is.
• Inaccessible digital interfaces: Websites of many healthcare companies are not designed keeping Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 in mind. The diagnostics reports which often come in PDF format are often not accessible to screen readers. The new-age apps used to book appointments and purchase pharmaceutical products are not accessible.
• Inaccessibility of services. The lack of appropriate services for people with disabilities is a significant barrier to health care. Imagine, even the emergency services can’t be invoked by the deaf or deaf-blind independently as no hospitals are trained to communicate on SMS.
• Limited to non-existent health insurance coverage. Getting a Health insurance is nothing less than an ordeal. Many disabled people are declined of health coverage on the pretext of their disability. Further, no retail healthcare policy in India covers congenital defects.
• No admissions to medical colleges. So far, Students with disabilities couldn’t have aspired to take medicine as their career. The Medical Council of India (MCI) did not allow students with a disability to study medicine, leading into several ugly court battles. Picture this, several countries boast of deaf nurses, deaf doctors, and even deaf surgeons, but MCI didn’t find them skilled enough. However, there is a positive news and hope for change. More on that in a bit.
The bottom line is that healthcare in India is not yet ready to treat disability as something that can be a part of everyday life. As a result, both the lifespan and the quality of life of disabled people are impacted and is generally poor. However, there is a glimmer of hope.
With the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPD Act) passed by Parliament in 2016, shall perhaps usher the much-needed change. The Act is applicable to all establishments including all government and the private sector.  And, it doesn’t take much to understand that no one is above the law of the land.
Clearly, the healthcare sector can’t shy away. Even the mighty MCI is now seeming to relent under the power of new law. After innumerable court battles escalating up to the Supreme Court, MCI has now notified, in November 2017, that it will allow 21 categories of disabled candidates including severely disabled candidates to take next year’s graduate and post-graduate medical courses. Only time will testify how much of this notification is followed in action and spirit.
The RPD Act has been brought in force to honor the principles of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Article 25 of the UN CRPD emphasizes the right of persons with disabilities to attain the highest standard of healthcare, without discrimination.
The World Health Organization estimates that 15 percent of the world’s population is affected by one disability or another. The RPD Act increases the number of recognized disabilities to 21 from seven. With this, the official count will obviously rise and, by conservative estimates, that figure could be as high as 100 million. Can we imagine the healthcare sector ignoring such a large populous?