Background: In the Rural Cancer Registry at Barshi (western Maharashtra, India), it has been found that the incidence of cancer is relatively low.
Aim: To explain the low incidence of tobacco related cancers in males on the basis of prevalence of their tobacco habits.
Setting and design: Simple random sample of villages from Barshi Rural Cancer Registry.
Material and methods: A tobacco survey was carried out in 5,319 adult males. Site specific incidence data for Barshi and Mumbai Cancer Registries were available from published reports in the National Cancer Registry Programme. Published report of prevalence of tobacco habits in Mumbai males was available.
Results: The tobacco survey showed that the prevalence of smoking compared to Mumbai was low (9.9% vs 23.6%) and the incidence of smoking dependent cancers viz., cancers of oropharynx, larynx and lung were significantly low (P< 0.05). However, although the proportion of tobacco chewers is higher in Barshi compared to Mumbai, the incidence rates for cancer of hypopharynx and oral cancer which are predominantly chewing dependent did not show higher rate than in Mumbai.
Conclusions: The low incidence of smoking dependent cancers in males can be explained by the low prevalence of smoking habit but further studies are needed to explain the observed incidence of predominantly chewing dependent cancers.