Air and water pollution combined with widespread use of food additives and pesticides made cancer the top killer in China last year, according to a recent government survey.
According to Chen Zhizhou, a health expert with the cancer research institute affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, "the main reason behind the rising number of cancer cases" was that pollution of air and water was directly affecting crops and food.
"Pollution of the environment, water and air is getting worse day by day. Many chemical and industrial enterprises are built along rivers so that they can dump the waste into water easily. Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides also pollute underground water. The contaminated water has directly affected soil, crops and food," said Chen.
Released by the Ministry of Health, the survey, conducted in 30 cities and 78 counties, showed that cancer topped the list of the 10 most lethal diseases for urban residents last year, followed by cerebrovascular diseases and heart ailments.
Death rate from cancer had also risen to 19 percent in cities and 23 percent in rural areas, while in rural areas, 92 percent of fatalities were caused by 10 illnesses, the first three being cancer, cerebrovascular diseases and respiratory diseases, China Daily quoted the survey as saying.
Air pollution was a major cause of lung cancers, as harmful granules entered the lungs and did not get discharged, the survey showed.
"Large amounts of formaldehyde and its compounds used in house renovations and furniture has been blamed for deterioration in air quality. In addition, farmers use additives on pigs, poultry and vegetables to make them grow faster," said Chen, adding that reports on "cancer villages" had shown a spurt in recent years.