BREAST CANCER IN CHINA

Breast cancer rates in urban China up

2 November, 2007

More and more Chinese women in urban areas are suffering from breast cancer because of unhealthy, Western-style diets, and an increase in work-related stress.

A recent survey by the Chinese Anti-Cancer Association showed that, in Shanghai, China’s commercial centre, 55 out of every 100,000 women have breast cancer, which is a 31% rise since 1997, the state-run China Daily has reported.

In Beijing, capital of China, nearly 45 out of every 100,000 women have breast cancer – a 23% hike over 10 years.

However, those numbers still remain far lower than in industrialized countries such as the United States.

Professor Qiao Youlin, of the Cancer Institute and Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, was quoted by the China Daily as saying that unhealthy lifestyles are mostly to blame for the growing numbers. Poor diets, environmental pollution, and increased stress are among the provoking factors, he added.

Researchers found that only 10% of the cases are on account of heredity. “Chinese women, especially those living in cities, should pay extra attention to their health and examine their breasts for any suspicious lumps on a monthly basis,” Professor Qiao Youlin said.

The report in the China Daily is the latest instance of how the Chinese people are increasingly being diagnosed with diseases more common in the developed world. As it is, China’s national health care system is weak, expensive and out of reach to many Chinese.

Rising affluence in the country has led many Chinese to take to junk foods, rejecting the traditional Chinese diet that consisted mainly of vegetables and grains such as rice. Around 60 million Chinese already are obese. Rates of high blood pressure and diabetes are going up.

Researches done previously had linked alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy diets – with too much of fat and salt – to various types of cancer among the Chinese people.

According to the China Daily, the rate of birth defects in newborns has risen in the coal-mining regions apparently on account of heavy pollution.

Though the China Daily did not give figures, data posted earlier in October 2007 on the website of the Chinese government’s National Population and Family Planning Commission had said that the national rate of birth defects had increased by about 50% between 2001 and 2006 – rising to 145.5 per 10,000 births.

Breast cancer is the leading form of the disease attacking women in Asia, followed by cervical cancer. Both can greatly be reduced by screening – like mammograms and pap smears or the new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that protects against a virus that can cause cervical cancer.
 

 

 

 
         
 

 

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