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Northeast tops cancer charts

Source: PTI
July 14, 2006 16:49 IST
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Certain pockets of the northeastern region have the highest cancer incidences rate compared to that of the rest of the country, a study done by the National Cancer Registry Programme has shown.

Mizoram capital Aizwal has the maximum number of tongue cancer cases surpassing the figure for Bhopal which witnessed a horrible gas tragedy over two decades ago, Dr A Nandkumar, NCRP officer in-charge told a medical conference in Shillong on Friday.

Nagaland and Manipur showed the highest age adjusted incidence rate for nasopharyngeal cancers. For cancer of tonsil, Darrang, Kamrup, Dibrugarh, Barpeta and Nalbari districts of Assam have the highest incidences. These districts also toppe)ûµoctor, also the deputy director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, said in his presentation. However, no figures were given. Men of Mizoram and Assam and women of Meghalaya and Assam have the highest number of cancer of esophagus while on cancer of stomach, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim are on the high.

He said China and Hong Kong topped the list of cancer of nasopharynx in the world but some Nagaland districts bordering Myanmar surpassed that record also. Because of smoking, lung cancer among the women was on the rise in western countries but the study showed that incidences of this type of disease were even higher in women of Manipur and Mizoram who also have smoking habit.

When it comes to age adjusted incidence rates of other common types like cancer of uterine cervix and breast (for female), the northeastern states were not far behind. Mizoram ranked third in the country in these types.

Dr Nandkumar said tobacco was responsible for 50 per cent of cancer incidences in men and 25 per cent in women in the northeastern region. ''If we can control our tobacco habit, majority of cancer can be prevented,'' he told the conference on 'continuous medical education on cancer challenges in India with particular reference to northeast' held at the northeastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences.

On the issue of alcoholism being a major factor for cancer, he said no formal study was made in this regard. But Prof N K Shukla, head of the department of surgical oncology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said alcohol increased the toxic effect of tobacco and doubled the bad effects.

Prof R N Sharan from the North Eastern Hill University's biochemistry department intervened saying alcohol per se was not a 'foreign element' in the body as all food particles were converted to alcohol under basic metabolism.

But when a lot of alcohol is taken, it harms the body. On the other hand, tobacco itself is a 'foreign particle' which the body can not assimilate into itself and causes cancer, he said.

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