NASCAR Provides Answers to Reduce Smoking

Smoking is a risk factor for head and lung cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) One of the major risks factors for head and neck cancers is smoking. New studies show community-based screenings may reduce smoking habits and reduce the risk of head and neck cancer.

A new study, conducted on NASCAR fans at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, screened for signs of head and neck cancer. Those identified as smokers later participated in a telephone survey where close to 60 percent had reduced smoking and 15 percent had quit entirely.

Community-based screenings that target a specific group of people could be the answer to reducing risky behavior.

"Ask your doctor about getting screened for head and neck cancers."

According to the study, American programs have not been effective in reducing the number of deaths associated with head and neck cancers.  The World Health Organization up to 80 percent of head and neck cancers could be reduced by changing bad behaviors, which includes smoking.

Programs, such as the ones offered by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, feature ways to reduce tobacco use and educate smokers on the signs of head and neck cancer as well as the risks of smoking. The study wanted to target a specific group of people in a community-based setting to see if screenings could reduce smoking.

At a NASCAR event at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, 578 individuals who were considered high risk by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy, were given head and neck cancer screenings. These screenings looked for things like mouth sores.

Out of the 578 participants, 31 percent were smokers. The smokers were then educated on risks of smoking as well as the signs of head and neck cancer.

Six months later, a telephone follow-up of the smokers was conducted and the results were positive. Out of the smokers, 59 percent had reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked per day and 15 percent had quit smoking. Researchers believed that this targeted community-based approach could alter bad habits.

Researchers accept more studies are needed to prove how and why community-based screenings may be effective in altering the behavior of smokers. The authors of the study believe there needs to be a shift away from government projects that have not impacted the number of head and neck cancer deaths.

State and community programs, which include doctors and healthcare providers, could help create new ways to educate and inform individuals about the risks of head and neck cancer. 

This study was published in the November edition of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

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Last Updated:
November 17, 2011