Cancer is a formidable health crisis that affects populations across the globe. In India, the state of Kerala stands out due to its consistently high cancer incidence, raising concerns and prompting research into the factors contributing to this unfortunate reality. This article will delve into the reasons behind Kerala’s high cancer incidence, shedding light on potential causes and exploring efforts to address this pressing issue.
Prevalence of Tobacco Consumption:
Tobacco consumption has long been associated with various forms of cancer, and sadly, Kerala has a high prevalence of tobacco use. This includes both heavy smoking and smokeless tobacco habits, such as chewing tobacco and betel quid. Despite existing tobacco control measures, the deeply rooted cultural acceptance of these habits continues to pose a significant challenge.
Consumption of Carcinogenic Foods:
Kerala is known for its delicious cuisine. However, certain traditional foods may contribute to the higher incidence of cancer in the region. For instance, the consumption of red meat, processed meats, and high salt content in traditional dishes have been linked to increased cancer risk. Efforts are underway to promote healthier dietary choices and educate the population on the importance of balanced nutrition.
Kerala’s rapid urbanization and growing industrialization often come with a price. Increased exposure to environmental pollutants, such as waste disposal practices, air pollution, and chemical contamination of water bodies, can significantly contribute to the rising cancer rates. Furthermore, exposure to asbestos, sand mining, and mining of mineral-rich areas has also been highlighted as potential risk factors.
While genetic factors alone cannot explain Kerala’s high cancer incidence, they can influence susceptibility to certain types of cancer. Several studies have suggested that certain genetic mutations prevalent in the region, combined with other risk factors, contribute to the increased cancer burden. However, conclusive evidence is yet to be established.
Awareness and Late Diagnosis:
Inadequate awareness and late diagnosis are significant roadblocks in the fight against cancer. Kerala, with its robust healthcare system, faces the paradox of high cancer incidence coupled with relatively high levels of awareness. However, many cases are still diagnosed at later stages, reducing the probability of successful treatment. This warrants emphasis on early cancer detection programs and strengthening healthcare facilities in rural areas.
Lifestyle and Aspiration:
The changing lifestyle patterns in Kerala, with increasing consumption of processed foods, sedentary living, and higher stress levels, also contribute to the rising cancer rates. As socioeconomic status improves, individuals adopt a more Westernized lifestyle, leading to an increased risk of cancer-associated with such shifts.
Kerala’s high cancer incidence is a multifactorial issue rooted in socio-cultural habits, environmental factors, genetic predispositions, and lifestyle changes. Raising awareness about the risks associated with tobacco consumption, promoting healthier dietary choices, curbing environmental pollution, and early cancer detection can all contribute to reducing the burden of cancer in Kerala. It is crucial for policymakers, healthcare providers, and individuals to collectively work towards mitigating these risk factors and ensuring a healthier future for the people of Kerala.
This article is written by By Dr. Jojo V Joseph
Dr. Jojo V Joseph of Kerala is a renowned oncologist and cancer specialist, who has made significant contributions in the field of cancer research and treatment. Dr. Joseph has dedicated his life to helping people diagnosed with cancer, providing them with the best possible care and support.
Website : https://www.drjojojosephoncosurgeon.org/
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