Breast cancer rates in urban China
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
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
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
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
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.