1 in 5 Mumbai’s BEST drivers, conductors have pre-cancer oral damage: Study
The study was part of a three-year programme conducted by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to help its employees give up tobacco products.Updated: May 06, 2019, 01:02 IST
One in five Mumbai bus conductors and drivers has pre-cancerous damage to the mouth and tongue, a recent study of 4,000 public transport bus employees has found.
The study was part of a three-year programme conducted by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to help its employees give up tobacco products. It was done to understand the knowledge and attitude among the staff about the harmful effects of tobacco. BEST officials said more than 15,000 employees were counselled to quit using tobacco products, and at least 5,000 of them have quit since.
The findings of the study’s sample of 4,000 employees, however, were concerning. The survey report, published in British Medical Journal, said 743 of the 4,000 participants tested positive for oral pre-cancers in a primary evaluation.
Experts said patients with precancerous conditions are more susceptible to oral cancers owing to the development of cells that may turn into cancerous tumours. The study also found 42% of BEST employees were addicted to tobacco, and 90% of them depended on smokeless (chewable) tobacco consumption. Tobacco consumption is the single most preventable cause of deaths globally, and India is the second largest consumer and third largest producer of tobacco.
Dr Gauravi Mishra, the main author of the study, said in the report the employees who enrolled for the study were given detailed health education before being screened for oral cancers. “Of all participants, 1,691 (42.28%) were tobacco users, with smokeless form of tobacco use being dominant — 1,561 (92.31%). Around 743 screened positive for oral pre-cancers in the primary evaluation; 592 were referred for clinical diagnosis of their symptoms,” she said in the report.
A final study by the Tata Memorial Hospital clinically diagnosed 534 of the employees with oral precancerous conditions.
Dr Anil Singal, chief medical officer, BEST said their tobacco-cessation programme was based on counselling, screening, treatment and relapse management. “Under the programme, we have counselled more than 15,000 BEST employees and conducted oral screening for 12,000 of them. While pre-cancerous lesions were found in 10% of them, 90% patients underwent biopsies at Tata Memorial Hospital,” said Singal.
He added that as a part of the deaddiction program, BEST has been felicitating employees who quit using tobacco. “We also offered Nicotine Replacement Therapy to over 1,400 employees and weekly counselling sessions to stop them from going back to consuming tobacco again,” Singal said.
Since October 2, 2008 smoking has been prohibited on public transport bus premises in India as smoking is banned in public places.