Air and water pollution combined with widespread use of food additives and
pesticides made cancer the top killer in China last year, according to a recent
Cancer topped the list of the 10 most lethal diseases for urban residents
last year, followed by cerebrovascular diseases and heart ailments, according to
the survey in 30 cities and 78 counties released by the Ministry of Health.
"The main reason behind the rising number of cancer cases
is that pollution of the environment, water and air is getting worse day by
day," said Chen Zhizhou, a health expert with the cancer research institute
affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
"Many chemical and industrial enterprises are built along rivers so that they
can dump the waste into water easily," Chen said. "Excessive use of fertilizers
and pesticides also pollute underground water.
"The contaminated water has directly affected soil, crops and food," he
Air pollution is a major cause of lung cancers, as harmful granules enter the
lungs and cannot be discharged. Large amounts of formaldehyde and its compounds
used in house renovations and furniture has been blamed for deterioration in air
In addition, farmers use additives on pigs, poultry and vegetables to make
them grow faster.
The survey, the first of its kind in recent years, showed that the death rate
from cancer has risen to 19 percent in cities and 23 percent in rural areas.
In rural areas, 92 percent of fatalities were caused by 10 illnesses, the
first three being cancer, cerebrovascular diseases and respiratory diseases.
Reports on "cancer villages" have popped up frequently in recent years.
An investigative story by Xinhua last June said a high rate of cancer deaths
has become a reality in areas where the environment is heavily polluted.
In Shangba Village of Guangdong Province, for instance, more than 250 people
died of cancer from 1987 to 2005; while in Huangmengying Village of Henan
Province, more than 114 people died of cancer between 1991 and 2005.
Similar cases were also reported in other provinces, with the usage of
heavily-polluted water being he common factor.
(China Daily 05/21/2007 page1)