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Why are cancer cases increasing in India?

According to an ICMR report, the number of cancer cases in India might rise to 29.8 million by the year 2025.


In recent years, cancer of cases in India has seen a steady increase in their numbers. While there must be several factors contributing to this trend, the most obvious reason is the increase in the population’s exposure to cancer-causing agents.

Radiation-based technology has been put more and more into use over the years. India has also seen a rise in cases of obesity, both in children and adults. While these two concerns are on the rise, tobacco smoking hasn’t been declining fast enough. While these are the active reasons why someone might develop cancer, genetic factors might also cause a person to run into cancer.


So, the question is- Why is cancer becoming more common? how do we protect ourselves from cancer? How can we slow down the rise of cancer cases in India? And most importantly, can the world ever get rid of this disease altogether? Let’s find out!


History of Cancer

Some of the mummies from ancient Egypt were found to have fossilized tumours inside their bodies. This is known to be the earliest evidence of cancer. The earliest description of cancer was found in an Egyptian account dated back to 3000 BC. The description was found in a book related to Trauma surgery. The word cancer was coined by the father of Medicine, Hippocrates.

It is evident that Cancer has been around in the Human population for centuries, but we are yet to come up with a solution that makes the condition easily curable.


Different kinds of Cancer

There are 5 main types of cancers known to us:

  • Sarcoma: Sarcoma is cancer found in the soft and connective tissues of the body, like muscles, bones, etc.

  • Carcinoma: This is the most common kind of cancer detected. It is found in the lungs, pancreas, breasts, skin & other glands and organs.

  • Melanoma: Melanoma is cancer associated with the pigment-generating cells in the skin.

  • Lymphoma: As evident from the term, it is the cancer of lymphocytes.

  • Leukaemia: Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and it is not known to cause solid tumours.


What are the most common causes of cancer?

The roots of Cancer are found to be genetic, so the tendency of cancerous development in the body can be passed on from generation to generation. However, scientists also believe that exposure to certain external factors and lifestyle choices can increase a person’s chances of developing cancer.


Here are the most commonly known causes of cancer:

  • Sun Exposure: Prolonged exposure to UV light is known to increase the chances of developing skin cancer, particularly melanoma, which is considered the most deadly kind of skin cancer.

  • Artificial Tanning beds: Tanning beds are also known to use UV lights to induce tanning. Naturally, their excessive use can also increase your chances of developing various kinds of skin cancer.

  • Obesity: Obesity leads to many kinds of lifestyle diseases, and it is also known to be linked to at least 13 kinds of cancer.

  • Alcoholism: Another faulty lifestyle habit, alcoholism leads to cancer of the liver, colon, breast, rectum, larynx, mouth, oesophagus, and pharynx.

  • Infectious diseases: HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is most commonly known to cause cervical cancers. It is also associated with cancer of the penis, vulva, oropharynx, etc.

Understanding why cancer cases are rising

The lifestyle choices of the Indian population have slowly been becoming more and more unhealthy with time. The increasing consumption of alcohol, processed foods, tobacco, caffeine and other stimulants can be intuitively considered the reason why cancer cases are increasing in India.


“Studies suggest that one in nine Indians are expected to develop cancer once in their lifetime.”


One of the many other reasons behind this trend is also increased stress. With recent socio-economic developments in the country, the working population of the country is being consistently exposed to a lot of stress, increasing the chances of cancer development.


Is there a way to control this increasing number?


How can the rising number of cancer cases be controlled?

There are two levels on which we can try to control the rising number of cancer cases in India:

  • National: As a nation, we can try and control the rising number by monitoring the most common causes of cancer and managing them at a group level. For instance, we can control the increasing problem of obesity in the population by running nationwide weight loss drills, organising awareness campaigns in schools, and educating people. We can try to manage excessive alcohol abuse by increasing the prices at which alcohol is sold in the country, and by educating people about the hazardous impact of alcoholism. The campaign against smoking is an example of this.


  • Individual: As individuals, we can keep a tab on our lifestyle choices. We can try to stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and other toxic stimulants. Introducing exercising and healthy diet into our routine can also be a great way to keep health in check. Another necessary measure to take is to keep getting regular health checkups, and observing any recent developments in the body. Early detection of cancer can save your life, so make sure you see a doctor whenever you notice something unusual with your body.


Final thoughts

Cancer is a deadly disease. Its cure and treatment are not easily available and very expensive. What is concerning is that it is becoming more and more common among the Indian population!

Poor lifestyle choices and increasing stress in the work environment are among the biggest reasons why cancer cases are becoming so common among the Indian population.

The causes of this disease are yet not fully known, hence prevention is a tricky task, but a healthier lifestyle is a good start.


Another way in which we can protect ourselves and our loved ones against the damage caused by this disease is by detecting it early. It is important to keep observing your body, and getting any unusual developments checked by a doctor.


Cancer prevention might be difficult, but we can still ensure that this disease doesn’t claim lives. It takes determination & self-belief. You got this!

 

The Author :

Dr. Sunil Khattri

sunilkhattri@gmail.com

+91 9811618704



Dr Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.


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