Aizwal July 28: Over 77 percent of Mizoram people have been found using tobacco, the prime reason behind the high rate of cancer cases in the Northeastern state. And most of them take to the harmful practice in their 20s.
This was revealed in the Monitoring Survey of Cancer Risk Factors and Health System Response in the North East Region conducted by the Bangalore-based National Centre for Disease Informatics & Research (NCDIR) under the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).
The survey was conducted between 2019 and 2020 and the report was released recently. “Use of smokeless tobacco is higher at 54.1 percent, with use of smoked tobacco at 43.6 percent. The mean age of initiation of tobacco use is 20.2 years. And the average duration of tobacco use is 20.2 years. And the average duration of tobacco use among past smokers is 20.9 years. As high as 86.8 percent of respondents reported exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in the past 30 days. Over half (58.1 percent) are current users of non- tobacco betel products in the form of pan masala, betel quid, or areca nut,” said a statement issued by the Mizoram government, quoting the report. Prevalence of high rates of cancer has earned Mizoram the tag of “cancer capital” of the country.
Tobacco consumption and poor healthcare habits have been identified as the main reasons for high cancer cases in the state with a nearly 12 lakh population.
According to a report of the National Cancer Registry Programme, 2012-2016, released in 2020, Mizoram recorded 207 and 172.3 cancer cases of all sites per one lakh population among men and women, respectively.
The ICMR-NCDIR survey found that the average number of days of fruit intake is 2.2 per week.
“Over 80 percent consume preserved/salted curated and fermented food items,” it said. Such food habits also make the Mizoram residents vulnerable to cancer and other lifestyle diseases.