Lung cancer cases could hit 1m

By Liu Mo (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-04 07:15

China will have the world's highest number of lung cancer patients 1 million a year by 2025 if smoking and pollution are not effectively curbed, experts have warned, citing World Health Organization (WHO) figures.

According to the national tumor prevention and cure research office affiliated to the Ministry of Health, the country had 120,000 new lung cancer patients during the past five years.

Lung cancer killed more people than any other disease one out of every four, sources said.

A recent WHO report suggests that smoking is the single, largest avoidable cause of death in the world, currently claiming 4.9 million lives a year.

"Smoking and pollution are two major causes of the high rate of lung cancer," Zhi Xiuyi, director of the lung cancer treatment center of the Beijing-based Capital Medical University, told China Daily.

Chinese smokers have surpassed the 350-million mark and account for more than a third of the world's 1.3 billion smokers; and two of three Chinese men are smokers.

It is estimated that the total output of the cigarette industry in 2006 was some 300 billion yuan ($37 billion).

The deteriorating state of the environment is also contributing to the rising rate of lung cancer in China.

Epidemiological investigations have found that the lung cancer rate in industrial and polluted regions is higher than in non-industrial regions.

"Occurrence of lung cancer is closely related with motor vehicle exhausts," Sun Yan, a cancer expert and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the Life Times.

Zhi said that traffic policemen had a higher occurrence rate of lung cancer than people of other professions.

Pollution caused by indoor furnishings can also be a factor; and experts advise people not to choose material containing harmful chemicals for indoor furnishings.

As many as a third of lung cancer cases can be avoided through preventive efforts, Zhi said.

Experts have called for stricter controls on smoking, especially in public places, and more anti-pollution measures to cut down the spread of lung cancer.

The government has moved in that direction in the recent past, banning sales of cigarettes to minors and in vending machines as well as banning smoking in public places such as cinemas and hospitals.

(China Daily 01/04/2007 page1)

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