“Stay away from tobacco, obesity and maintain genital hygiene for a cancer-free life”. This is the message that Dr Rajendra Badwe, director of Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, wants to give people.
The senior cancer surgeon said the 70 per cent of cancer cases in India could be prevented if people follow this advice.
Tobacco is the main cause of 35 per cent of total cancer cases, primarily mouth, throat and lung cancer. Obesity is linked to 20 per cent cases as it increases risk of breast/ovarian cancer and poor genital hygiene is blamed for cervical cancer, which comprises 15 per cent of all cases.
“The habit of washing one’s genitals should be inculcated in boys as the human papillomavirus, which spreads by sexual contact, makes women prone to developing cervical cancer,” said Dr Badwe.
He pointed out that cervical cancer is almost non-existent in Middle-Eastern countries and the Jewish community because men are circumcised. In India, the incidence of the cancer is 33 per cent less among Muslims when compared to Hindus for the same reason.
Drop in cervical cancer cases
The number of new cervical cancer cases in urban areas has been reducing by 1 to 2 per cent every year for the last four years due to more people having access to running water, Dr Badwe said. “Hygiene levels have improved in urban areas so the cervical cancer rate is dropping,” he said. In rural areas, cervical cancer cases have risen, he added. Approximately 1.3 lakh Indian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 74,000 die due to it every year.