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Tobacco is India's biggest cancer worry

health-and-fitness Updated: Feb 04, 2012 00:46 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times
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Tobacco use is fuelling a cancer epidemic in India, making cancers of oral cavity (mouth) and lung the top two cancers in men.

More than 10 lakh people develop cancer in India each year. The disease is projected to rise five fold — 2.8 times because of tobacco use and 2.2 due to ageing — by 2025, shows population-based cancer registry data from the Indian Council of Medical Research. Other causes include unhealthy lifestyle and pollution.

The cancer of the breast has overtaken that of cervix as the leading cancer in women in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.

"…early menarche and late menopause raise breast cancer risk by exposing a woman to oestrogen over a longer time," says Dr Sameer Kaul, surgical oncologist at Apollo Hospitals. Simply put, periods before the age of 12 and menopause after 55 is a cancer-risk, as is having first child after 35.

Globally, 12.7 million new cancer cases occur each year, with 7.6 million deaths, reported the Cancer Journal for Clinicians Friday. Breast cancer is the top cancer in women worldwide, accounting for 23% cases and 14% of cancer deaths.

Lung cancer is the most common in men — 17% new cases and 23% deaths.

Smokers are up to 22 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. “Tobacco use is the single-largest preventable cause of cancer and discouraging use the most cost-effective intervention,” says Dr GK Rath, chief, Rotary Cancer Institute, AIIMS.

“Tobacco kills 10 lakh people a year, more than AIDS, murders, suicides, alcohol and drug abuse put together.”