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ICMR: India’s Cancer Cases To Hit 15.7 Lakh By 2025! Decoding Alarming Rise Of Disease Among Indian Youth | Health News

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India is reporting a high rise in cancer cases in the country, what is more alarming is the numbers are fast increasing amongst the youth today. Environmental factors stress lifestyle; unhealthy eating habits are increasingly becoming the leading causes of cancer country-wide.  What is more surprising is, around 30-50% of cancer is preventable and simple changes in lifestyle can reduce the chances of cancer. Yet, the numbers are on the rise in the country. 

Jyotsana Govil, Chairperson, Delhi Branch, Indian Cancer Society shares, “In 2022, there were an estimated 20 million new cancer cases and 9.7 million deaths (as per recent reports), and 1 in 5 people develop cancer over their lifetime.  According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), cancer cases in India are estimated to reach 15.7 Lakh by 2025, with a significant portion affecting the younger population.”

“With around 65% of the population, under 35 years of age in India, let us understand why cancer is impacting the youth of the country,” adds Ms Jyotsana.

Factors Contributing to the Rising Cancer Rates Among India’s Youth

Change in eating habits: In India, a significant contributor to the rising cancer rates is the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy dietary habits. Approximately 80 million people, including 10 million in the 5-19 age group, grapple with obesity, a condition strongly associated with various cancers such as oesophageal, colorectal, breast, endometrial, and kidney cancers. This overweight and obesity can be directly linked to sugary and fatty food, which can trigger cancer, especially among youth. Obesity is increasingly leading to the rise of cancer cases among youth.

High consumption of processed meat and fat: India is also witnessing a spike in colon cancer cases amongst younger populations. A recent study found that the occurrence of colon cancer is shifting to young adults in the age group of 31 to 40 years, while it earlier affected older people above the age of 50. Physical inactivity and smoking are some of the key causes. Common symptoms of colorectal cancer include persistent alterations in bowel habits like diarrhea or constipation, abdominal discomfort, unexplained weight loss, and the presence of blood in the stool.

Infections: Certain infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B and C viruses, can also increase the risk of developing cervical, liver, and other cancers, especially if left untreated. HPV Virus is also known to play a role in oral cancer; hence, practicing safe sex and getting vaccinated is important for the youth today, especially for the ones in high-risk groups. For women, it is especially important to get PAP tests and HPV tests. 

Environmental Pollution and Cancer Risk: India’s rapid industrialization and urban development have resulted in severe environmental pollution. Exposure to air pollution, contaminated water sources, and hazardous chemicals are also leading to cancer. Pollutants such as particulate matter, heavy metals, and carcinogenic compounds can penetrate the body’s defenses and lead to cellular damage, potentially triggering the development of cancerous growths. As per a recent report (The Global Burden of Disease study) approximately 8% of cancer cases in India, highlighting the significant impact of pollution on cancer risk.

While lifestyle and environmental factors play a significant role in cancer increase, increased psychosocial stress, irregular screenings, ignoring early signs and symptoms, challenges with diagnosis and treatment, and discontinuation of treatment due to financial challenges are additional causes behind the increase in cancer in the country, which also affects youth. While the government, private sector, and doctors are making consistent efforts to treat cancer and cure people, simple steps like maintaining a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress levels, finding personal-professional life balance, taking care of oneself, and most importantly staying content and happy can significantly reduce the chances of cancer in the country.

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