Shock figures reveal Asian women’s risk of mouth cancer

A radio documentary tonight will reveal how women in the UK’s South-Asian community are at a high risk of developing mouth cancer as a result of using gutka – or chewing tobacco.

Gutka is currently more popular than ever before in the UK.

According to the National Cancer Intelligence Network, which has revealed the first national report into cancer rates within ethnic groups, Asian women are 80% more at risk of developing mouth cancer than white women.

The show is hosted by former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and is on the radio at 6.00pm tonight on BBC Asian Network.

Hazel Nunn, a specialist health advisor with Cancer Research told Asian Network Reports that these results were: ‘Somewhat surprising, given that Asian men are more likely than Asian women to smoke.’

She went on to explain that smoking is the prime risk factor for oral cancers, in terms of the number of cases across the board, but that this reports suggests that factors such as chewing tobacco and areca nut are more important than was first thought.

It’s not just women who are at risk – the documentary also features insightful contributions from within the Asian community, including a teenager who claims that he first tried it at the age of five.

Konnie Huq also hears from Rispal Chana, an NHS nurse working for Birmingham’s Stop Smoking Services.

She says that many clients have successfully quit cigarettes which are linked to mouth cancer.

However, when it comes to chewing tobacco and areca nut, the battle has only just begun.

The nurse tells how she has also heard reports of children as young as 11 and 12 regularly chewing paan with areca nut and says that it is common to see these mixtures sold alongside sweets in local stores.

Konnie finds out how gutka has now been exposed as a serious health risk and investigates whether these revelations will have any impact on the community.

The Asian Network Report ‘Goodbye to Gutka’ will air at 6pm tonight (Monday 26 October). It will also be available to listen from their website, www.bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork

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