Pollution blamed for Chinese cancer explosion

Pesticides, chemical food additives and air and water pollution have been blamed by the Chinese authorities on rocketing rates of cancers in the country.

Cancer has become the leading killer in the country in recent years, followed by cerebrovascular diseases and heart ailments which can also be blamed in part on pollution.

China’s Ministry for Health published a survey of common causes of death in 30 cities and 78 predominantly rural counties which concluded that life-threatening conditions were being exacerbated by environmental problems.

Particulates and toxic chemicals used in house renovations and furniture have been blamed for falling air quality in the home, which in turn has led to a rise in lung-related disease.

The report also highlights the phenomenon of ‘cancer villages’ where significant spikes in cancer rates have been recorded, with dozens dying each year in settlements of just a few hundred inhabitants.

In all these villages samples have shown that drinking water has been heavily contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals from pesticides or industrial sources.

“The main reason behind the rising number of cancer cases is that pollution of the environment, water and air is getting worse day by day,” said Chen Zhizhou, of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences’ cancer research institute in an interview with state-owned China Daily.

“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.”

Sam Bond

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