Environmental pollution has brought change in cancer types and trend in the country, a study conducted by the doctors from the Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) in Guwahati has revealed.

The study, which has been published in the international journal Advances in Human Biology, primarily focused on the trends of gallbladder, lung and breast cancers.

As per the study, there was rapid industrialization in the 1990s and with that the resultant impact on the environment in terms of pollution has been growing ever since.

Now, after more than a quarter of a century, the increase in environmental pollution has shown its impact on the rising number of cancer cases in the country, the study said.

“The national cancer burden study has highlighted the changing cancer burdens in India from 1990 to 2016. Despite the decline of the smoking population in the country, the burden due to lung cancer in both men and women combined in 2016 was a third among all cancers compared to a seventh in 1990. Similarly, lower risk of developing breast cancer among women residing in rural areas compared to urban areas suggests the underlying role of pollution for the same,” said Dr Manigreeva Krishnatreya, Medical Officer of BBCI and a lead author of the study.

Recommendations from the study have been sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for use in mitigating the problem.

Dr Amal Chandra Kataki, Director of BBCI, said the rising incidence of cancer in the country can be partly explained by the burgeoning population and increase in the life expectancy, leading to an expected increase in the number of cancer patients.

“However, a changing pattern of cancer cannot be solely due to the previously known prevailing risk factors in the population. Curbing environmental pollution has inherent health benefits and prevention of cancer along with non-communicable diseases will have profound economic benefits in addition to preventing loss of lives,” said Dr Kataki.

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