Inactive children at more risk of contracting cancer: Mallath

Panaji: Raising grave concern over the sedentary lifestyle of youngsters, Dr Mohandas K Mallath, a senior consultant of Digestive Oncology on Wednesday said that physical inactivity can increase the risk of developing cancer.

“Today kids are not able to maintain their weight. Kids are dropped to schools by vehicles. Schools are located in cities and towns which have no playgrounds. After school hours, they attend coaching classes or watch television or just are busy on their smartphones, so when there is no physical activity, you are at risk of contracting cancer. This is going to be next carcinogen which we will see in the next 30-40 years to come,” said Dr Mallath, while delivering a lecture on ‘Growing burden of Cancer in India’ at the ‘6th Annual Goa Cancer Society Lecture’ at Goa Medical College, Bambolim.

Dr Mallath, who is a consultant at Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata said that cancers of breast, oral, cervix, lung, and stomach are top five cancers in India while breast and colon cancers are most common in Goa.

“From 1990 to 2017, Goa’s cancer mortality as a percentage of all-cause mortality went up from 7 per cent of all mortality to about 12 per cent. And the number of cancer cases have also doubled in the last 27 years, they have gone up from 500 cases to about 1,200 new cases every year,” he said.

He said that data proves that incidence of cancer cases among the people below 40 years of age is less. He said that people over 40 years of age are more likely to contract cancer and the incidence picks up in people in the age group of 50-70 adding, “If one crosses 70 years of age then there is a great risk of contracting cancer.”

“Disease of young age which was mostly infections is getting replaced by the disease of older age. Cancer can be attributed to modernisation because with modernisation came vaccines, hygiene, better care and disappearance of all infection-related disease and deaths so the incidence of contracting non-communicable diseases are increasing,” Dr Mallath said.

“At the time of Goa’s liberation, 7 per cent of the population was above 60 years of age. Now, 11 per cent of the population is above 60 years of age so if you look at cancer cases only in elderly in Goa it increased from 336 cases to 1,320 cases. If you add patients getting second cancers relapses and if you introduce the screening programme in the community and get all the slow-growing indolent cancers then the numbers will rise further,” he added.

Earlier, addressing the gathering Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said that the government has expedited the process of setting up the tertiary cancer care centre. He expressed hope to commission the 520-bed super specialty block of Goa Medical College at the end of this year. Rane inaugurated e-classroom at GMC which is equipped with internet connectivity that will help connect with other medical institutes across the country through video-conferencing.

Speaking on the occasion, president of Goa Cancer Society (GCS) Shrinivas Dempo said that the society has sanctioned Rs 60 lakh for assistance to needy cancer patients.

He said that the GCS has organised camps wherein 1,500 people were screened for cancer. The camps were organised in association with Manipal Hospital.

He further said that the society is supporting Ponda unit of Indian Medical Association in implementing ‘Dilasa’ project (Centre for Care of the Terminally Ill).

Dempo further urged all the GMC doctors to come forward and give their valuable suggestions and help to take the work of GCS forward. [NT]