THE GROWTH OF CANCER INCIDENCE IN INDIA
THE GROWTH OF CANCER INCIDENCE IN INDIA
The ubiquity of cancer over the decade is almost as obvious as global warming. Over the last few decades, India has seen rapid changes in technology and lifestyle. Some would even call these changes impediments as they have been realized to account for cancer. However, there seems to be an increase in cancer cases even with the many efforts of the government and NGOs striving hard to raise and spread awareness about them. Starting with the food that we have to consume every day, the lifestyle practices we follow, all these have western influences. In a study conducted amongst Asian and Western participants, the most cancer free of both parties were the ones who hail from Asia and those who follow the Asian lifestyle. Also, it is something to be noted for that the longest living humans on Earth are Asian. So, what could be the reason for Asian longevity? It is their simple lifestyle and food choices.
In 2012 alone India lost 4.3 million healthy lives to cancer and the country’s GDP got cut down drastically by 70,000 crores due to the disease. India being the third largest country with a high cancer population was a cancer-free country just a few decades ago, now faces economic loss due to cancer incidents. With the arrival of western food and culture, the Indian population gave way to a lifestyle that has plastic coated, toxin-filled packaged food taking up most of their food menus. These foods have cancer-causing agents called carcinogens that are found in packaged and barbequed foods worldwide. With the growing chains of fast-food restaurants and barbeques, it is seemingly hard to opt for a lifestyle that makes way for homemade food.
Lifestyle choices play a crucial role too. With our lives getting busier day by day, we spend more time under artificial light more than ever. Artificial Light At Night (ALAN) is a hidden reason for cancer in domestic setups. Being exposed to light at night, especially while sleeping, causes imbalances in hormone secretion, changes the body clock disrupting sleep cycle and even leads to depression due to the change in sleeping pattern. Incorporation of artificial food and artificial lights, by now, sounds like a huge no to lead a cancer-free life. But in all seriousness, there are other factors like living and working environment conditions, hereditary, and stress that add up to the list.
With around 36 types of cancers known and measures being taken for effective prevention, the population and lifestyle choices that people have been adopting these past decades overpower the government’s measures to tackle cancer incidences nation-wide. The four major priority cancers are breast, cervical, oral and lung cancers. With the increase in the number of smokers and women ’s hygiene issues, these causes lead to 41 percent of cancer burden over-all. While cervical cancer is due to genetic reasons, oral and lung cancers are popularly known to be caused by the use of tobacco, consumption of red meat, prior radiation in the neck, mouth region. There is also a rise in lung cancer in women.
India has the third highest rate of female cancer cases after China and the US. There is a need for more awareness, medical resources, and screening technology if we were even going to deal with the cancer situation in the country. There is more need for awareness in the rural areas where most of the symptoms are not treated with seriousness and most of the cases in rural areas that end with grave news due to cancer is mainly due to lack of proper awareness and mishandling or no handling of the diagnosis of symptoms. Most people even with awareness tend to handle the issue with no care at all and find out they need medical attention only after the problem gets out of hand. Ignorance is also to be blamed for in scenarios like this.
Working in environments like nuclear power plants, near cell phone towers that produce radiation is both harmful to humans as well as the flora and fauna in the surrounding radius. The radiations that are emitted have a direct impact on the bodies of living beings and it is seen quite clearly in the case of leukemia. Stress is also one of the main causes of a variety of diseases. Physical well-being is as important as mental well-being. These days, there seems to be so little time for self and it must be pointed out that stress is also one of the causes of cancer. With air pollution at its highest rates, especially in Delhi and Bengaluru air quality has been deteriorating on a large scale this past decade.
These changes in the environment can affect the genetic setup of a person with prolonged exposure and cause abnormal mutation, thus leading to cancer. With more number of industries put in position everywhere around the country, there is a massive release of untreated industrial wastewater that mix with water sources and atmospheric air, adding to the crisis of both climate change and cancer. It is to be kept in mind that whatever affects the atmosphere and the environment affects us, humans. With continuity in detrimental developments like these and with expert foresight by various resources like the WHO, cancer death rates are only expected to rise steadily unless proper care and actions are taken to curb the cancer epidemic.
It is not so hard to see that simple, healthy and stress-free lifestyle practices like in the good old days can take us a long way in leading much healthier and cancer-free lives.
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