GUWAHATI, July 21: Lifestyle-related cancers have topped the chart in the north-eastern region which has an overall high incidence of cancer in the country.
According to a recent report compiled by the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), esophageal cancer is the highest in men followed by cancers of the lung and stomach. If one counts the number of incidence of esophageal, lung and stomach cancers they form 33.5 per cent of all cancers in the North East among men. In women, breast cancer is the highest followed by cervix and esophageal cancer (33.8 per cent).
"While many cancers are linked to lifestyle-related risk factors, esophageal cancer is also linked to consuming extremely hot beverages," said an expert at B Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI).
Quoting a study conducted by the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai the expert said people who gulped down very hot tea (simmering temperature) were four times more prone to esophageal cancer. "There are certain dietary habits that definitely play a role in the increased incidence of cancer in the North East," he said. Other oncologists at BBCI and Gauhati Medical College & Hospital have attributed the high rate of cancer in the North East to intake of tobacco and consumption of fast food, red meat and alcohol. "As high as 40 per cent of cancers in North East result from the reasons that have been already cited here. Inactivity and consuming excess calories can aggravate the problem," the expert said.
Another expert said smoked meat and fermented food is consumed in high quantities in various parts of Arunachal Pradesh by almost all the 26 major communities and this contributes to high instances of stomach cancer in the State. He also pointed to regular consumption of smoked dried meat as a reason for high stomach cancer cases. He said places where people have similar food habits, like China, Japan and Taiwan, also suffer from high incidences of stomach cancer.
A five-year analysis of cancer data by the B. Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) has found that oesophagal cancer contributed to nearly 16 per cent of cancer deaths in men and 12 per cent in women in the State. Even though the exact causes for high oesophagal cancer cases in Assam are still under investigation, chewing betel nut and consumption of tobacco has been a major contributing factor for such cancer cases. An expert said a person who chews 20 more betel nuts a day has 13 times higher risk of developing oesophagal cancer.
Oncologists said different types of cancers in NE can be prevented by appropriate changes in lifestyle and food habits.