Cancer is a major public health concern in India and has become one of the ten leading causes of death in the country. It is estimated that there are about 3 million new cases of cancer at any particular point of time with 1 million new cases every year Nearly seven lakh Indians die of cancer every year, while over 10 lakh are newly diagnosed with some form of the disease.
1. According to the latest World Cancer Report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), more women in India are being newly diagnosed with cancer annually. As against 4.77 lakh men, 5.37 lakh women were diagnosed with cancer in India in 2012.
In terms of cancer deaths, the mortality rate among men and women in India is almost the same. While 3.56 lakh men died of cancer in 2012 in India, the corresponding number for women was 3.26 lakh.
2. One in every 10 Indians runs the risk of getting cancer before 75 years of age, while seven in every 100 runs the risk of dying from cancer before their 75th birthday.
Cancer of lip and oral cavity has emerged as the deadliest among Indian men while for women, it is breast cancer.
The top five cancers in men are lip/oral cavity, lung, stomach, colorectum and pharynx, while among women they are breast, cervix, colorectum, ovary and lip/oral cavity.
The global cancer burden jumped to 14.1 million new cases in 2012, with WHO saying the marked increase in breast cancers must be addressed.
3. Sold as mouth fresheners or something similar, these products use menthol, perfume, spices, sugar, etc. to mask the bitter taste of tobacco and other carcinogens and get youngsters hooked. The truth is that tobacco remains the most dangerous consumer product in the world in the 21st century which kills half its patrons (and I see many of them every day, those who’ve been disfigured by the most horrible forms of oral and mouth cancer) and its very existence is a bane to mankind.
In India, tobacco causes 45% of all cancer deaths and 20% of all deaths. People find it impossible to quit because of the addictive nature of the chemical nicotine – so addictive that WHO considers tobacco addiction a disease which sadly afflicts one out of every three Indian. Along with tobacco, Gutka and pan masala contains other harmful metal content like – lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, copper and nickel. Areca nut or betel nut – one of the main ingredients of all these products is a confirmed carcinogen according to WHO and a cause of severe illnesses.
4. Rural India consumes more tobacco
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey India 2009-10 says that 35 percent adults in India, which constitute nearly 27.5 crore, use tobacco. The ratio of tobacco consumption in rural areas is more than in urban areas.
“About two of five adults in rural areas and one in four adults in urban areas use tobacco,” the survey suggests.
Another study, ‘Patterns of Tobacco Use Across Rural, Urban, and Urban-Slum Populations in a North Indian Community’ found that tobacco consumption among women was also reported more in rural areas than in urban areas.
What is most alarming is that each day about 55,000 children in India start using tobacco.
In rural areas, home made tobacco products and khaini are more popular and easily available at cheaper costs.