Jordan's late King Hussein (L) offers then-premier Yitzhak Rabin a cigarette at his palace in Aqaba.
(photo credit: GOVERNMENT PRESS OFFICE)
Due to efforts in reducing tobacco consumption, the Israel Cancer Association said on Tuesday that the number of lung cancer cases has declined in Jewish men and women and in Arab women in Israel.
It has risen among Arab men, though, who continue to smoke heavily and who expose their female relatives to the deadly toxins as well.
Despite the decline in lung cancers in Arab women due to first- or second-hand (passive) smoking, their prevalence of cancers from some of the other malignancies caused by tobacco – such as throat, bladder, oral and nasal, kidney, esophageal and pancreatic – has risen, said the ICA, which is preparing for its annual Knock on the Door fund-raising campaign on October 31.
Stopping smoking would prevent 81% of lung cancers in men and 58% in women.
The ICA receives its budget – used for cancer research and treatment, information and other purposes – from donations and not from the government.
President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, on Tuesday evening hosted an event at the President’s Residence marking the new year of the ICA’s activities. Also speaking at the event was Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, ICA chairman and past-president of the International Union Against Cancer Prof. Eliezer Robinson, ICA director-general Miri Ziv and children who are being treated and have been treated for cancer.
Dr. Lital Keinan-Boker, deputy head of the Israel Center for Diseases Control, said tobacco is the most preventable cause of cancer. If the population’s exposure to it were completely prevented, cancer deaths could be significantly reduced.
Ziv said it has been struggling to reduce smoking among Arabs as well as the Jewish population by promoting legislation and enforcement, supporting research, disseminating materials and holding informational events for young people addressed by medical students, educators and others in Arabic, Russian and Hebrew.
The ICA has also launched and funded a pilot project in which text messages are used to encourage smokers to quit.
Organized with help from the Health Ministry and the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine, it includes interactive messages and personal advice to smokers.
Robinson will serve as chairman of the ICA’s fund-raising campaign following a significant anonymous donation to the association in his honor, and he called on the public to donate generously. He added that much research, including a new study at Harvard University that followed people over 30 years, has shown that one can reduce the amount of cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Every year, some 30,000 new cases of all kinds of cancers are diagnosed among Israelis, with 10,000 of them dying of it.
A new piece of Israeli research funded by the ICA examined whether radiation of the healthy breast of women who have developed breast cancer can lower the risk of carriers of genetically transmitted tumors of the breast.
Dr. Ella Evron of Sheba and colleagues at several other medical centers have invited carriers of the BRCA gene to participate. So far, in the preliminary phase, the researchers are guardedly optimistic that the procedure can help lower the risk, the ICA said.
If it is clearly found to be successful, the radiation will be recommended to BRCA carriers instead of prophylactic surgery to remove the breasts.
The ICA also reported on new studies abroad that regular physical activity can reduce cancer deaths among drinkers of alcohol. A total of 36,370 men and women over 40 participated and were classified according to whether they drank alcohol and how much.
Over the period of study, 5,735 died, some of them from cancer. The risk of cancer deaths was over 50% higher in those who drank more per week than the recommended amounts compared to those who did not drink.
The ICA also quoted studies showing that those who are overweight or obese had a significantly higher risk of cancers than those with normal weight.