The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has warned that the number of cancer cases in India is likely to increase by 12 per cent in the next five years. The high life expectancy of the people of India is the main reason behind the increase in the number of cancer cases. People get more and more flaws in their genes as they get older.
Wesley M. Jose, Associate Professor of clinical oncology at Amrita Hospital, says the risk of cancer will increase as the elderly population grows. The ICMR data show that men (52.4 per cent) have a higher risk of cancer than women (47.4 per cent). The main reason for this is tobacco use in men. Tobacco use accounts for 48.7 per cent of all male cancer cases. In women, it is only 16.5 per cent.
A recent report predicts that the number of cancer cases in India related to tobacco will reach 4,27,273 by 2025. This is 27.2 per cent of the total cancer cases in India. Another factor leading to the increase in cancer cases in India is the prevalence of tobacco use among the youth, which has 69 factors that cause cancer. Murad E. Lala, an oncologist at Hinduja Hospital, says stopping tobacco use will help reduce the number of cancer cases in the country by up to 25 per cent. He also added that tobacco and gutka are behind 27 per cent of cancer cases in India.
Apart from tobacco, alcoholism, obesity, lazy lifestyle and environmental factors are also behind the increase in cancer in India. The increase in the general living conditions of the people leads many to a lazy lifestyle. Wesley M. said one of the reasons behind cancer is the increasing number of Indians who ingest high-calorie foods and at the same time adopt a lazy lifestyle.
Statistics show that six types of obesity-related cancers are slowly rising in people under the age of 50. Many of these are diagnosed after the disease has progressed and are difficult to treat. According to ICMR, cancer among children under the age of 14 is also on the rise. Paediatric cancer accounts for 7.9% of all cancer cases.
Health experts say the government can reduce the incidence of cancer in India by strengthening health systems, providing universal health coverage, imparting health education and setting up grassroots diagnostic centres. Experts add that a better lifestyle, including exercise, and strict tobacco and alcohol control laws will help.