More women die to cancer than men in Punjab

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Chandigarh, Apr 2: In contrast to the global cancer trends where more males die of cancer than females, more women are dying of the disease in Punjab. A study conducted under a Europeon Commission funded project in eight districts of Malwa region, revealed that 25 per cent more females are dying of cancer than males.

This is in total contradiction of data from the WHO, which indicates that all across the globe, one third more males die of cancer than females. Under the project, titled 'Cancer deaths in agricultural heartland: a study in Malwa region of Indian Punjab', conducted by a senior journalist Bajinder Pal Singh, 30 villages were selected on a random basis from among the eight districts namely Bathinda, Muktsar, Mansa, Faridkot, Firozpur, Sangrur, Barnala and Moga.

The data, regarding cancer deaths for a period of five years (2002-2006), indicated that 256 cancer deaths were reported out of which 142 were women. The number of deaths were more in Bathinda, Muktsar, Mansa, Faridkot districts compare to the other four districts.

The project, submitted at the International Institute of Geo Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), The Netherlands, noted that results were more significant since females suffered an adverse sex ratio in the state. ''Primarily, the non-smoking culture of Punjab could be the reason behind lesser cancer mortality among males as globally lung cancer was a major killer among males,'' Mr Singh said.

''Punjab, primarily because of the influence of Sikhism which prohibits smoking and consumption of tobacco, has the lowest smoking rate in the country. This could be a reason for lesser cancer deaths among men, which could indirectly imply that cancer mortality among females is more than men,'' he added.

Other possible factors could be differential literacy rates, gender bias, lack of medical facilities and difference between rates of incidence and mortality.

There is no cancer hospital in the region and also there are very few female doctors. Besides, large number of women suffered from breast and uterus cancer and it had also been observed that they hesitated in informing their family about the problem, he said.

''This study opens a totally new dimension to cancer studies in the region. Since gender studies in cancer in India have been few in number, it is possible that the trend is not restricted to Punjab, but could be true of other states as well,'' Mr Singh remarked.

He said the study also reveled that cancer mortality was increasing every year, ''the figure has doubled in from 2002 to 2006. ''However, this could be due to increase in the reporting of the cases as people are becoming more aware,'' he said.

It had also been found that in the cotton belt area the cases of cancer were more compared to paddy and rice belt area.


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