Beware! Dry fish on your plate may cause cancer

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Bhubaneswar: Top oncologists working with premier hospitals like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar and Acharya Harihar Regional Cancer Centre (AHRCC), Cuttack suspect presence of carcinogenic contents in salted dry fish.

According to the doctors who are providing consultations and treatment to thousands of cancer patients throughout the state at these centres claim that now stomach cancers as well as colo-rectal cancers are rising in the state. Oncologists blame the food habit, lifestyle changes, increased consumption of spicy foods including salted dry fish.

“There has not been a concrete study to prove this scientifically but trends of cancers, region-wise, hints at this. We are seeing more cases of stomach cancers from people coming from coastal states like Puri, Ganjam and others,”

Dr Madhabananda Kar, Surgical Oncologist from AIIMS-Bhubaneswar told Orissa POST.

He also hinted that more women are becoming victims of breast cancer due to lifestyle changes like late marriage, late child bearing and changed breastfeeding habits among others. “Now, cervical cancer cases are coming down due to more usage of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines. HPV infections are said to be the prime reasons behind cervical cancers,” Kar added.

He said that more number of oral cancer and lung cancer cases are coming from western Odisha which could be linked to more usage of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. “Studies in Punjab had linked cancer to the usage of more pesticides,” said Kar.

Oncologists from AHRCC, Cuttack also agree with the regional variation of cancer cases. “In tribal areas and districts like Nabarangpur and Koraput we still see more cervical cancers due to different sexual habits of the region. On the other hand urban population is reporting more breast cancers among women,” said AHRCC Director Dr Lalatendu Sarangi.

He also suspected dry fish consumption as one of the likely reasons for rise in stomach cancer cases.

“Cancer case trends are changing in Odisha. Stomach and colo-rectal cancer cases are now showing an upward trend. Consumption of dry fish, spicy foods and other lifestyle changes could be attributed to this trend,” said Sarangi.

The AHRCC director also claimed that as HPV vaccines are said to have proved a good prophylactic measure to control cervical cancers, the vaccines, if administered through public health systems, could help in reducing such cases.

“It will be a good decision if the vaccine is introduced in public health institutions. The Odisha government is also thinking about this. There are some countries like Taiwan which reduced the incidences of cervical cancer to a very large extent due to mass administration of HPV vaccines,” Sarangi told the newspaper.

Manish Kumar, OP

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