Aminul Islam Sujon
Cancer is critical, long-lasting disease. In most of cases, if cancer is not diagnosed at early stage, it causes to death. Even, if cancer is diagnosed at early stage, still treatments are expensive. So, prevention is better than cure. In particular, prevention of cancer should be in priority in all nations to fight against cancer; the worst world epidemic.
The world has much progress in medical sciences including cancer treatment. But, still cancer deaths are escalating. The evidence showed us that about 600,000 deaths have increased from 2008 to 2012. It means due to cancer, 7.6 million and 8.2 million people died in 2008 and 2012 respectively. This increasing death trend is continuing.
According to World Cancer Report 2014, cancers are leading causes of death worldwide and accounted for 8.2 million deaths per year with approximately 14 million new cases diagnosed. The number of new cases is expected to rise by 70 per cent over the next two decades. About 30 per cent of cancer deaths are due to the 5 leading behavioural and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use. Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer causing over 20 per cent of global cancer deaths and about 70 per cent of global lung cancer deaths. It is noted that the 5 most common cancers among men; lung, prostate, colorectum, stomach, and liver cancer and among women; breast, colorectum, lung, cervix, and stomach cancer.
The most common causes of cancer death are cancers of: lung (1.59 million deaths), liver (745, 000 deaths), stomach (723, 000 deaths), colorectal (694, 000 deaths), breast (521, 000 deaths), and esophageal cancer (400, 000 deaths).
So, the global health community, in particular the World Health Organization (WHO) and Union International Cancer Control (UICC) and many other international public health organizations are prioritized to prevent cancer. Therefore, these organizations are celebrating World Cancer Day (4 February) every year to push forward the cancer prevention polity globally and nationally.
This day has been being celebrated globally from 2006 according to the official announcement of the WHO. But, this day was formed in 1933 in Geneva, Switzerland under UICC with the support of world's prominent cancer societies, treatment centres, research institutes and patient groups. The foundation of Cancer Day aims to curb and bring down the deadly disease.
World Cancer Day is a chance to raise voice against cancer and also an opportunity to unite the world to fight against the global cancer epidemic. Each year, the world celebrates this day with specific theme to create awareness of the causes of cancer, promote early diagnosis and healthy lifestyles. At the same time, this day is also useful to promote cancer prevention policy formulation and implementation globally and nationally to reduce cancer.
Cancer is not meaning of fate. Rather, in most cases, cancer is caused by our food habit, life styles or bad habit of life. Particularly, smoking or using tobacco is the main reason. The WHO stated in 1999 that tobacco contains more than 4,000 chemicals including 43 cancer causing poisons. While US Surgeon General Report 2010 stated that about 7,000 chemicals exist in tobacco smoking and among them, about 70 chemicals cause cancer. It is proved that smoking and tobacco uses are most common causes for cancer. More than 30 per cent cancers occurred for smoking and tobacco use. Lung cancer and oral cancers are the two most common consequences of smoking and tobacco use.
There are some other cancers which occur due to smoking or tobacco use. According to American Cancer Society (ACS) cancer fact and figures 2011, "It is stated that besides lung cancer, tobacco use also increases the risk for cancers of the mouth, lips, nasal cavity (nose) and sinuses, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), oesophagus (swallowing tube), stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterus, cervix, colon/rectum, ovary, and acute myeloid leukaemia".
Even passive smoking causes lung cancer. Many children and women died from cancer from passive smoking. From the WHO findings, about 6 lakh people died in 2010 from passive smoking. Among these 6 lakh deaths most died from lung cancer.
Meanwhile, tobacco use or smoking is the cause for some other common NCDs, like Stroke, Heart Disease, Asthma, Diabetes etc. So that, account for tobacco use death in a year is 6 million and is increasing day by day as tobacco consumption increasing in developing and low income countries in the world. There is now big threat in public health. If the tobacco consumption demography raised, 1 billion deaths will occur in this century.
In Bangladesh, according to Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) report titled 'Global Burden of Diseases' in 2013 stated; over 95,000 people died in Bangladesh due to tobacco use. WHO stated in 2004 that about 1.2 million are facing 8 serious NCDs due to tobacco use (including smoking). Among them 382,000 lose physical activeness in their life and they are treated as disable and 57,000 died in each year due to tobacco related diseases.
In addition to tobacco use, there are some other common factors causing cancer, such as: alcohol/drug use, obesity and physical inactivity, taking soft drinks/cold drinks and fast food, air pollution, low fresh fruits and vegetable intake and sexually transmitted HPV-infection. So, we need to be careful about unhealthy diet and negative behaviour. Particularly, habit of taking soft drinks, energy drinks, chemical juice, fast food and junk food is another major cause for cancer. Nowadays, it is well-known as un-healthy diet. By avoiding unhealthy diet, tobacco and drugs (alcohol and other drugs) addiction and consuming healthy diet (including fresh fruits and vegetables), increasing physical exercise could reduce risk of cancers randomly.
Therefore, we need some changes in policy for reducing the risks of cancer. A strong polity is needed to control unhealthy foods (fast food, energy-soft drinks-chemical juices) including banning of their advertisements. We need to ensure healthy diet and food for everyone. We need to strictly control all kind of drugs; tobacco products, unhealthy diet. Taxes and tariffs need to be increased on unhealthy diet and tobacco products. Then, we can say that 'cancer is not beyond us'.
Aminul Islam Sujon is a public health and environmental writer and global cancer ambassador for Bangladesh. E-mail: [email protected], 01711 386797