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Tobacco use on rise by 130 per cent

New Delhi: May 29, 2015, DHNS: 1:51 IST

Cancer cases nearly doubled in 2 decades

Not only chewing tobacco, smoking, too, kills millions in India. The incidence and mortality due to pharynx (throat) and lung cancer went up alarmingly in the last 23 years, says the latest global cancer estimation, released on Thursday. DH file photo

The widespread habit of chewing tobacco has taken a heavy toll on the Indians as not only the incidences of mouth cancer has increased by 130 per cent between 1990 and 2013, but mouth cancer mortality too doubled in the same period.

Not only chewing tobacco, smoking, too, kills millions in India. The incidence and mortality due to pharynx (throat) and lung cancer went up alarmingly in the last 23 years, says the latest global cancer estimation, released on Thursday.

While there is nearly 90 per cent increase in the absolute number of cancer cases, from 6.24 lakh in 1990 to 11.7 lakh in 2013, the actual increase comes down to 30 per cent when adjusted against population growth in the same period. But either way, tobacco emerged as the most important culprit as it contributes significantly for mouth, throat and lung cancer.

“Mouth cancer, the commonest cancer among men in India, is preventable as it has a strong association with tobacco chewing. Cigarette and bidi smoking are associated with lung and throat cancer,” said Lalit Dandona, one of the co-authors of the study who is professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the Public Health Foundation of India.

Mouth cancer was not ranked in the top ten for incident cases globally but ranked second in India for men and women combined.

For both sexes, the mortality due to throat and lung cancers has increased by 70 and 135 per cent respectively. For both types of cancer, the incidences shot up by 160 and 81 per cent.


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In absolute number, lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths for men, and breast cancer was the top cause of cancer death for women. Male deaths from lung cancer outnumbered deaths from other cancers in India while breast cancer took more female lives than other cancers.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in India, which is easier to tackle if detected early. Better awareness about this and more effort by health programmes to facilitate early detection of breast cancer are needed,” Dandona told Deccan Herald.

Besides tobacco, another preventable cause of cancer, particularly among the men, is alcohol abuse as liver cirrhosis is a key contributor behind liver cancer, whose incidence increased by 97 per cent among men.

The only happy story comes from the cervical cancer load in women as it remains static in India unlike the global trend, which shows a rise of 8.5 per cent. The estimate was published in the latest edition of the journal JAMA Oncology on Thursday.

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