We need to adopt a collaborative and collective approach to tide over with this rising trend of cancer incidences
The people all over the world celebrated this year’s World Cancer Day (Feb 4) as a commitment to take pledge and work in reducing the impact of cancer on individuals, families and communities. The cancer in Kashmir is emerging as a leading killer disease with people affected having lost hope given the absence of quality healthcare sector in the state.
Over the years, the Valley has witnessed an alarming surge in cancer cases, putting a big question mark on the already ailing health sector of the state. Expressing serious concern, experts from valley are of the belief that cancer mortality rate among Kashmiris increased due to some leading behavioral and dietary risks, including high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and lack of regular health check-ups. The major contributory factors for the cancer upsurge in valley are poor rural lifestyles and general deprivation. The use of copper utensils in cooking, the consumption of spicy, deep fried foodstuffs, and the drinking of hot salty tea is scientifically proven to have a role in rising cancer incidences.
Another contributing factor is an environmental issue with exposure to high levels of dietary nitrosamines from diverse sources. According to the latest study, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide and in Kashmir, CRC has been found to be the third most common gastrointestinal cancer after esophageal and gastric. The study says there are certain factors which increase person’s risk of developing CRC. The most important of these are the age, diet, obesity, diabetes and smoking, personal cancer history, alcohol consumption, large intestinal polyps, family history of colon cancer, race and ethnic background, genetic or family predisposition.
Experts also attribute the rise to intake of spicy food, changing dietary habits and consumption of bulk of contaminated food items available in the market with reportedly massive adulteration in mass consumption food items which kills people slowly, with increasing number of patients complaining of food poisoning, gastric troubles and other problems. Killer foods in Kashmir markets are flooded with dangerous additives and adulterants.
It has been revealed that 80 percent of milk sold in Jammu and Kashmir contained adulterants. Common additives to milk impair the functioning of various organs of the body, cause heart problems and cancer.
These factors in association with occupational lifestyle changes are the front-runner causes for explicit rise of this deadly disease in Kashmir. We need to shun the myths associated with this disease society harbors for these patients as it is we who contribute to this rise.
On this year’s World Cancer Day, it is imperative for us all to join hands and take a pledge to work at the grassroots level to reduce the burden of rising Cancer cases in Kashmir. We should make individual and collective efforts to examine cancer control strategies to identify winning formulas that will accelerate progress. The goal for all of us should be to ensure that fewer people develop cancer, more people are successfully treated, and that there is a better quality of life for people during treatment and beyond. We must keep hope alive to prevent and cure cancer, and relieve the pain when the battle is lost and not before fighting it very hard. This is the message released on the eve of this year’s World Cancer Day by the World Cancer Control Society.
It is high time for the state establishment of Kashmir as well to turn the attention towards the ailing healthcare sector so as to tide over with this problem of rising Cancer incidences in the valley. Otherwise this catastrophe will lead us to the point of no return.
Author is currently working as a Research Fellow at CSIR-IIIM, Jammu