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Lifestyle, NCDs kill over 61% in India

DH News Services, New Delhi, Nov 27 2017, 23:30 IST
The global body argued that by investing just $1-3 per person per year, countries can dramatically reduce illness and death from NCDs. Reuters file photo

The global body argued that by investing just $1-3 per person per year, countries can dramatically reduce illness and death from NCDs. Reuters file photo

Over 61% of all deaths in India can be attributed to lifestyle or non-communicable diseases, according to a new report that red-flagged how many environment risk factors are linked to seven major diseases affecting the millions of Indians.

Take the case of cancer for example. More than 1.73 million new cancer cases are likely to be recorded each year by 2020. While air pollution, tobacco, alcohol and diet change are the known triggers, up to 20% of cancer cases can be linked to environmental exposures of toxins says the report prepared by the Centre for Science and Environment.

The report underscores the significance of tackling the environmental risk factors in order to curb the non-communicable diseases, responsible for more than 61% of the deaths in India.The seven diseases or disorders, highlighted in the report, are obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory troubles (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder); mental health, hormonal imbalance and food allergies.

"India has 2% of the world's land mass but 21% of the diseases mass. In the last two decades, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, mental illness, and depression have become common. A host of organs including heart and kidney are affected by air pollution besides the lungs. The toxins in the air also cause infertility and insulin resistance," Sanjeev Bagai, vice chairperson of Manipal Hospital said at a function where the report was released.

The World Health Organisation identified four risk factors for non-communicable or lifestyle diseases €“ alcohol, tobacco, poor diet and lack of physical activity. The global body argued that by investing just $1-3 per person per year, countries can dramatically reduce illness and death from NCDs.

"We believe the cost is going to be much higher. The risk factors have multiple targets and can cause diseases which are not generally linked to them. For example, exposure to pesticides is known to cause cancer, but new data is emerging to link it to diabetes as well," said Sunita Narain, director general of the CSE.

Increase in life span is coming at a big price. In the 1970s prevalence of diabetes was 3-4% but the figures are staggering at the moment. Its all about processed food and changing eating behaviour is the biggest challenge, said Ambrish Mithal, head of the endocrinology division at Medanta Heart Institute, Gurugram.

Air pollution is another risk factor. While its role to trigger respiratory problems are well known, there is little understanding on how this can adversely affect mental health. Increased sugar intake too has been linked to mental illness, says the report.

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