Govt lists top 10 causes of can­cer in In­dia

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - HT NAVI MUMBAI - Sanchita Sharma let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: Air pol­lu­tion, cer­tain vi­ral in­fec­tions, along with to­bacco in its many forms, are among the top five avoid­able causes of can­cer in In­dia, con­cluded an ex­ten­sive re­view of close to 500 known car­cino­gens by the min­istry of health and fam­ily wel­fare.

The top three car­cino­gens are smok­ing and chew­ing to­bacco, areca nut (su­pari) and be­tel quid (paan, paan masala), which make oral can­cer the most com­mon in In­dia. Of them, to­bacco in its three forms — chew­ing, smok­ing and se­cond-hand smoke — ac­counts for 30% of all can­cers in In­dia. “Most peo­ple don’t link viruses with can­cer, but viruses such as hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus (HPV) have been proven to cause cer­vi­cal can­cer and Hep­ati­tis B is linked with liver can­cer,” said Dr Harit Chaturvedi, di­rec­tor of sur­gi­cal on­col­ogy at Max Health­care.

Get­ting vac­ci­nated against both th­ese viruses – Hep­ati­tis B vac­cine is a part of rou­tine im­mu­niza­tion in In­dia – can pro­tect against cer­vi­cal can­cer in women and liver can­cers in both gen­ders, Dr Chaturvedi sug­gested. An­nu­ally, an es­ti­mated 30 lakh peo­ple in In­dia suf­fer from can­cer; of th­ese 11 lakh are new cases and the dis­ease claims 5 lakh lives each year. The can­cers that claim most lives in In­dia are the most com­mon, in­clud­ing oral, breast, cer­vi­cal and lung can­cers.

The In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer Mono­graphs lists 481 agents and en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that are car­cino­genic, prob­a­bly car­cino­genic, or pos­si­bly car­cino­genic to hu­mans.

“The in­ter­na­tional list is mas­sive and some causative agents are not rel­e­vant in the In­dian con­text. For In­dia’s mono­graph, 500 known car­cino­gens were re­viewed and rec­om­men­da­tions were given on what is be­ing done and what needs to be done to pre­vent th­ese can­cers,” says a health min­istry of­fi­cial.

In­dia’s Na­tional Health Pro­file 2015 es­ti­mates that can­cer in men will rise by 19% by 2020, with mouth can­cer reg­is­ter­ing the high­est spike. In women, can­cer cases will go up by 23%.

RE­LATED RE­PORTS, P8

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