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Posted at: Nov 13, 2018, 1:34 AM; last updated: Nov 13, 2018, 3:56 PM (IST)

Cancer deaths have doubled since ’90

ICMR cites tobacco and alcohol use, dietary changes as key factors
Cancer deaths have doubled since ’90

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 12

Deaths from cancer have more than doubled in India and contribution of the disease to total health loss in terms of years of life wasted has also doubled.

The Indian Council of Medical Research in a quarter century (1990 to 2016) study of cancer in India has found that new cancer cases annually increased from 5.48 lakh in 1990 to 11 lakh in 2016.

Tobacco and alcohol use and dietary risks have been identified as top causes of cancers with a growing number of oncologists pointing to food adulteration, poor lifestyles and indoor pollution as major risk factors.

"All cancers together contributed 5 per cent of the total Disability Adjusted Life Years (health years of life lost) and 8.3 per cent of the total deaths in India in 2016 — an increase of 90.9 per cent and 112.8 per cent respectively from 1990,” says the study which has among collaborators ICMR former DG and current Deputy DG, WHO Soumya Swaminathan and leading oncologists GK Rath of AIIMS, New Delhi.

The study says estimates new cancer cases increased from 5,48,000 in 1990 to 1.1 million in 2016 and the number of deaths increased from 3.82 lakh in 1990 to 8.13 lakh in 2016 (a rise of 53 per cent).

ICMR which collaborated with the Public Health Foundation of India on the project also names leading cancers in India in 2016 — which caused more than 5 per cent of the total cancer DALYs among both sexes combined. These were stomach cancer (9 per cent), breast cancer (8.2 pc), lung cancer (7.5 pc), lip and oral cavity cancer (7.2 pc), pharynx cancer other than nasopharynx (6.8 pc), colon and rectum cancer (5.8 pc), leukaemia (5.2 pc), and cervical cancer (5.2 pc). Stomach cancer was responsible for the highest DALYs among all cancers in India in both 1990 and 2016.

Among females, breast, cervical, and stomach cancer caused the highest DALYs in 2016. The highest cancer DALYs among males in India in 2016 were due to lung cancer, followed by lip and oral cavity cancer, other pharynx cancer, and stomach cancer.

The study also examined boys and girls aged 0-14 years and found leukaemia caused most DALYs in India in 2016 followed by brain and nervous system cancers.

Dr DC Doval of Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute today said lifestyle changes were responsible for most cancers especially breast, cervical, head and neck and lung. He said people must go natural and stop consuming anything artificial, including junk food.

“Breast cancer is caused by late marriages and lack of breast feeding,” Doval said.

Oncologist Sanjeeva Kumar says he had concluded food adulteration to be the top risk factor for cancer. He warned people against use of non-food grade aluminum foils.


Disturbing figures

  • New cancer cases increased from 5.48 lakh in 1990 to 11 lakh in 2016. Also, deaths from cancer rose by 53 per cent over a quarter-century
  • Cancers related to stomach, breast, lung, lip and oral cavity, pharynx other than nasopharynx, colon and rectum, leukaemia, cervical, oesophageal, brain and nervous system caused the highest health loss in India in 2016

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