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Posted at: Oct 13, 2019, 7:37 AM; last updated: Oct 13, 2019, 8:53 AM (IST)

Single-use plastic damages cells: Oncologist

Single-use plastic damages cells: Oncologist

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 12

Single-use plastic gets converted into nanoplastics and causes damage at the cellular level, said Dr Jatin Sarin, an oncology expert, while appreciating the government’s decision to ban single-use plastic.

He said: “The cells initially don’t recognise plastic as food. Since they are dependent on protein for their growth, over a period of time protein absorbs nanoplastics layer by layer until it is mimicked as food for cells. It gradually gets degraded inside the cell and gets converted into a component called styrene, which is a possible carcinogen.”

Talking about cancer menace, he said cancer these days had become the biggest killer after heart disease. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), around 1,300 Indians die every day due to cancer. India registered 11.6 lakh new cancer cases in 2018, according to GLOBOCAN. However, the number will hit 20 lakh by 2040. In Haryana alone, 13 lives are lost from cancer every day.”

Dr Sarin, Head of Oncology at Ivy Hospital, said: “The long-standing use of tobacco is the main cause of cancer in the country and responsible for 40 per cent of cancer cases in men and 20 per cent in women. In men, the top three cancer killers are oral, stomach and lung cancer, while in women, they were cervical, stomach and breast cancer.”

He said the number of cancer cases was expected to rise by 70 per cent over the next two decades in India. Cancer was still considered as a stigma in Indian society and women having breast cancer do not speak about it openly fearing being stigmatised by their own family and friends. “The attitude towards cancer from our society has made cancer patients invisible, preventing open discussion and creating a vicious cycle of fear and misinformation for the masses,” he remarked.

This is what is hindering attempts to raise awareness about avoidable cancer risks and the importance of early detection, he pointed out.

“Most of the cases in our country are diagnosed very late. According to the statistics of the WHO, more than 60 per cent of the women are diagnosed with breast cancer at stage III or IV in India. This drastically affects the survival rate and treatment options for the patients,” maintains Dr Sarin.

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