Mumbai, Feb 1: There are more than 24 lakh cancer cases in India, according to a startling revelation made by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
As per WHO studies, the total mortality (males and females) due to cancer in India was estimated to reach 6,66,563 by 2015. This year the theme for World Cancer Day is ''Smoke-free childhood''. Keeping in tandem with the theme, studies establish that the majority of tobacco users start during their teens, thus acquiring a persuasive and unhealthy habit.
In India alone, 5500 youths succumb to tobacco addiction each day, thus making tobacco a source of growing concern not only for the government but also for society.
While the of tobacco use increases rapidly, studies indicate that by the year 2025, the overall increase in tobacco-related cancer deaths is expected to be 220 per cent when compared to those caused by other diseases. Population-based studies have established that regular smokers (beedi and cigarette) had 12-fold higher risk than non-smokers of lung cancer.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Dr P C Gupta, Director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, said children were the worst sufferers from exposure to tobacco smoke and were at an increased risk of cancer when they reach adulthood. ''We urgently need smoke-free adulthood to prevent cancer and other diseases and smoke-free childhood even more urgently because children cannot protect themselves'', he said.
The recent move to make pictorial warnings on tobacco products mandatory is yet another positive step toward curbing the tobacco epidemic in India. However, only stringent implementation will give the desired results,'' Dr Gupta added.