Pollution causing cancer in children in China


Beijing: Over 32,000 children under 14 in China today suffer from cancer and such cases are on the rise due to the rampant pollution and unhealthy lifestyles, the health experts here have warned.

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“The fatal disease long considered a problem of older people is now striking more and more children,” said Zhang Guangchao, a cancer expert and the general secretary of the Chinese Anti-Cancer Association.

“Major risk factors include pollution and unhealthy lifestyles. The most common kinds of cancer among children are leukemia, lymphoma and brain cancer,” Zhang told China Daily in an interview published Thursday.

The incidence of bone cancer is higher among teenagers than younger children, he added.

“Personally, I’ve seen more cases of children developing leukemia after home decoration,” he said.

“Long-term exposure to harmful chemicals from decoration materials would substantially raise the cancer risks, particularly for children,” Zhang said.

Child cancer patients show common symptoms such as persistent low fever, weight loss and nose bleeds, said Zhi Xiuyi, a Beijing-based lung cancer expert.

Zhi has warned parents that unhealthy lifestyles increase the risk of cancer. It is proved that factors like obesity, inactive lifestyle and high-calorie diet can help in the development of childhood cancer, he said.

“Early intervention in children’s unhealthy lifestyles will greatly lower their risk of developing cancer both in childhood and adulthood,” Zhang said.

Obese adults face much higher risks of breast and colon cancers, he said.

“Breast, skin and colon cancers are more related to unhealthy lifestyles than lung and liver cancers,” he added.

“The rates of these cancers are rising rapidly among Chinese people, who have become richer in recent decades and have then adopted a Western lifestyle,” said Zhi.