Rising Incidence of Cancer

THE number of persons who have succumbed to cancer in Jammu and Kashmir in the last three years is 21,016, union health ministry data has revealed. Significantly, the number of deaths has witnessed an upward trend. While in 2018, 6824 cancer patients died, in 2019 the number rose to 7003 and in 2020, the deaths have surged to 7189.  The situation is same with the total number of cancer cases reported in these three years. Out of an estimated 39041 cases, 12675 were recorded in 2019, 13012 in 2020 and 13354 in 2021.

What this means is that the growing incidence of cancer in the union territory has barely changed over the last decade. And this should be a grave cause of concern for us all.  In February 2018, the then health minister Bali Bhagat had admitted the rising trend of cancer in the then J&K state in the preceding five years. According to the data provided by him in the Assembly,  3,075 cancer cases were reported in 2011, 3,288 in 2012, 3,157 in 2013, 3,940 in 2014 and 4,257 in 2015.  But as the new numbers reveal, the situation has become grimmer.

So there is a need for a more proactive handling of the deadly disease by the administration. In addition to increasing the allocation of resources for the treatment, there is an urgent need to investigate the reasons for this growing surge in cancer cases in the UT. People need to know as to what has changed in our place that has led to the spread of the disease. It is a pity that our major healthcare institutions have been unable to put in public domain credible research about the causes for the growing incidence of cancer in the state. Such studies will be immensely helpful as it will persuade people to take due precautions to reduce their vulnerability to the disease.

That said, a 2012 SKIMS study had blamed the rising number of cancer cases to “food habits and life style patterns” as also to the consumption of  high salt content foods.  Many dyes, used in industries and sometimes in foods, are also thought to act as human carcinogens. And some of these dyes, like carmoisine and tartazine, have been found to be used as a coloring agent in many edibles, spices and condiments in Kashmir.

In recent years, food contamination and adulteration has emerged as a major issue in Kashmir. Hazardous agents have been found to have been used even in the food products of some major corporate houses. Sadly, J&K administration has so far done little about the growing food adulteration in the state, which has now been proven to be one of the factors leading to rise in  cancer cases. The frightening new data is, therefore, a wake-up call. The government has to get cracking on the unscrupulous traders and expose the use of chemicals and dyes in the food. And at least, to start with, there has to be a campaign to create more awareness of the ways in which our food is adulterated.

Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.