A recent study has revealed the alarming growth rate of cancer in China, it turns out that all that smog isn’t just bad for your figure.
According to research done by American Cancer Journal of Clinicians, 4 million people were diagnosed with cancer in China last year, while almost 3 million died from it. The data is the worst in China’s industrial “rust belt” provinces, where lung cancer rates have quadrupled.
Since 2010, cancer has been the leading cause of death in China, with lung cancer accounting for the highest number of deaths. Researchers cite pollution, chronic infections and heavy smoking as the main factors contributing to this silent epidemic.
According to ABC News, hospitals in Beijing are currently struggling to deal with an overload in patients streaming in from all over China, seeking treatment. People are often forced to wait months to see a doctor, but by then it may already be too late.
Here is one man describing to ABC how his wife developed lung cancer:
“The reason is the work environment and the air pollution, she had no cover,” he said.
The couple come from the coal-producing province of Shanxi. The man said his wife was exposed to chronic air pollution when she worked on the regional railways.
“At night if you use a torch, you can see it best, the air is full of small particles, if you work indoors there’s less chance of getting cancer,” he said.
For a look at life in one of north China’s coal towns. Check out this photoseries capturing a mine in Fuxin city, Liaoning province.
While Chinese media is filled with heartwarming stories featuring desperate individuals trying everything to pay for their loved one’s cancer treatment or cancer patients being married in their hospital beds, the government has done little to publicize the problem or introduce educational campaigns to inform the populace about risk factors.
China is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of cigarettes. A shocking study last year found that one in three Chinese men will be killed by the habit. As far back as 2008, China’s cancer death rate was found to have increased by 80% in the previous 30 years. 2012 saw 670,000 smog-related deaths in China and a recent estimate by the China Ministry of Health says that 22% of new cancer cases occur in China, along with 27% of deaths, while China is only home to 20% of the world’s population.
Despite these alarming statistics, a top China tobacco official stated at the National People’s Congress earlier this month that WHO-recommended graphic health warnings on cigarette packs would undermine “Chinese cultural traditions.” Meanwhile, Li Keqiang announced earlier this month that China hopes to clean up its air pollution by 2 to 3% this year.
Back in December 2013, the WHO created an interactive map, which revealed the shocking impact of coal plant emissions on estimated premature deaths in China. Take a look here.