When it comes to cancer, young people tend to believe that they are in the clear. But in Bengaluru, India (also known as Bangalore), oral cancer is affecting young people at alarmingly high rates. A survey conducted by Indus Health in Bengaluru shows that 25 to 30 percent of the young people in Bengaluru are at risk for oral cancer. This is largely due to smoking cigarettes, which can cause a host of health problems. In fact, a study that surveyed 13,800 people in the age range of 25 to 35 between January 2015 and April 2016 showed that 10 to 12 percent of the young people surveyed were at risk of heart disease.

Smoking can be extremely damaging to a one’s health. An oral cancer patient may only have a portion of their original tongue and need to have the other parts of their tongue reconstructed with plastic surgery. Cancer of the mouth, cheek and jaw bone can also be caused by chewing tobacco. Every day, young lives are lost to cancer.

The majority of cases of oral cancer are linked to the use of tobacco or heavy use of alcohol. Using both tobacco and alcohol poses a much larger risk than using either substance alone. Possible signs of oral cancer include a sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in the lip, mouth or throat. Other signs include a feeling that something is caught in your throat, difficulty moving your tongue or your jaw, or numbness of the tongue and other areas of the mouth. Other signs are a white or red patch in the mouth, difficulty chewing or swallowing, pain in one ear without hearing loss or a swelling of the jaw that makes dentures fit poorly or become uncomfortable. While most young people don’t have to worry about dentures, they absolutely do have to worry about cancer if they’re tobacco users.

Of course, there are many other reasons not to smoke. For example, smoking while pregnant can allow the womb to be affected by harmful chemicals. The supply of blood and oxygen to the fetus can be reduced and therefore can lead to miscarriage, preterm delivery and growth restrictions. For a pregnant mother, smoking cigarettes can cause birth defects such as heart and lung disease, neurological disorders, and gastrointestinal complexities. Even passive smoking can affect the health of a mother and her baby.

Many women quit smoking during pregnancy when they realize the risks. However, there is a possibility that some women who are addicted to smoking will hide it from doctors due to stigma.

Addiction to cigarettes can also cause osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is characterized by the deterioration of bone tissue.

Overall, cigarettes can cause a number of health problems. The results in Bengaluru show that cancer is not limited to older people. Smoking tobacco increases one’s chances of getting oral cancer to a significant degree. If you are addicted to cigarettes, talk to your doctor about ways to stop before your health is seriously affected.