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Cancer Time Bomb Threatening Economic Infrastructure

An article published by the British Medical journal reveals that there has been a tremendous increase in the number of cases of cancer in the Asian region. This has become a// major strain on the already burdened health system.

According to a WHO report the number of cases are expected to climb at the rate of 45% which will overtake the even the Americas to 156 to 100,000 as compared to 164 to 100,000 in the Asian region. It is the European countries which have the highest incidence but here too the numbers will increase only at 9%.

The major cause for the increase in the cancer cases is due the unhealthy lifestyle in the region. The use of tobacco has increased to a great extent. It is also the major cause for increase in Lung Cancer which is a major killer in the region. WHO has reported that almost a million people die due to this cancer. Another major fatal disease is the stomach cancer. This is growing at a rate of 25% in a year.

Mainly due to the westernization of the Asian diet there is a major increase in the consumption of red meat and alcohol. This has given rise to breast cancer, colon cancer and even cancer of the rectum.

Obesity and the aging population of the Asian region too have added to the increase of deadly tumors. Most of the population does not have the reach to proper treatment like Herceptin and Avastin. The high cost of treatment for cancer is crippling the patient as well as the economy.

Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal Lancet is of the view that “There really is going to be an incredible pandemic of cancer like we've not seen -- we couldn't have imagined it -- over the next 20 years. We barely have the health systems to handle infectious diseases, so how on earth are we going to deal with this?" `It is going to cost them a fortune in terms of health care expenditure,’ eliminate a huge number of people from the labor market. We think AIDS is a disaster to the wo rld now. You have seen nothing yet.'

If there is a tremendous increase in the allocation for health care to treat the cancer patients then it can have an adverse effect in the growing economies of China and India. These countries spent only a fraction of what is spent on health care as compared to the developed economies.

The cancer related deaths in the Asian region is around 7 million. “Historically in developing countries, people died before they could get cancer, Now they are living longer, we're seeing more cancer and degenerative diseases of the brain”, according toYou-Lin Qiao, a professor of cancer epidemiology at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing.

Most of the people living in impoverished condition do not have access to health insurance. Leave alone insurance they do not even have proper access to doctors and nurses to treat the disease. There is an acute shortage of proper trained doctors and nurses in the region.

Instead of looking into sophisticated drugs and technologies to treat the disease, it would be better to look into other avenues to prevent such diseases. Anti tobacco campaigns, methods to decrease obesity among the population, campaigns to increase exercise and eat more healthy food like fruits and vegetables. “These seem simple things, but they would eradicate a vast proportion of the potential cancer burden,” according to Horton.

Franco Cavalli, president of the Geneva-based International Union against Cancer is of the opinion that 'if nothing happens, there will be a disaster. For the time being, governments don't realize, or do not want to realize, that this is a bomb which is going to explode.'

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