Mizoram: India’s cancer capital

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Aizawl(Mizoram): Mizoram, a tiny state in the Indian sub continent  known for its natural beauty also  has the highest incidence of four types of cancer in the world and records the highest in India and the main  reason is due to extensive  consumption of tobacco by the Mizo people including women .
Gripping  more than three persons  with its cold hand a day ,the deadly cancer is  stalking  the mountainous state of Mizoram , dubbed as the cancer capital of India.Thanks to their heavy consumption of tobacco and unhygienic   food habit , Mizos are vulnerable to the killer disease . A total of 5,888 cases of cancer were detected during the past five years , of which 2,695 were women . During the same period , cancer claimed 3,137 lives , including 1,290 women.
Since 2001 when the first cancer data was compiled for the state, Mizoram  has been the state with highest per ca pita incidences of cancer in the  country . The first cancer data revealed  that six of the state’s eight districts ranked among the top ten cancer incidences across India.With 209 out of every one lakh residents of the  Aizawl district  alone suffering from various forms of cancer , it is most  cancer -ravaged district in the country.
Dr. Eric Zomawia, principal investigator under the state health department told said  that the most common cancer among males is stomach cancer while  among females  is lung cancer while   the most prevalent types of malignancy are of stomach , lungs,cervix liver and nasopharynx.
Six districts of Mizoram-Aizawl, Champai, Kolasib Lunglei,Mamit and Sherchhip– are among  the ten districts of India with the highest cancer incidence among men. Four Mizoram districts–Aizawl, Kolasib, Mamit and Serchhip are among the top ten districts in India in cancer incidence among women.
Extensive consumption of tobacco,coupled with unhealthy food items such as smoked  meat and vegetables and fermented soya bean and pork etc are attributed to the high incidence of cancer in the state.
At present, Mizoram has the dubious distinction of being the highest tobacco consuming state in India. As per the National Family Health Survey, the state was in the first position in tobacco consumption, which is clearly indicative of the fact that Mizoram leads in cancer incidence.
Tobacco consumption is also highly prevalent among Mizo women, with about 62 percent of  the fairer sex consuming tobacco in various forms ,mostly chewing. Besides, rampant tobacco use ,various factors including food habits such as regular diet of fermented and smoked meat and a huge number of people chewing ‘paan’ are the main causes of this unenviable position in the national cancer registry.
H P Vanlalengmawia, a 43 -year old old pastor who established Mizoram Cancer Care Foundation , an organisation of cancer patients and survivors, lamented that Mizoram government provided  little medical facilities to take care of the huge population of cancer patients . It was the government’s lack of support system  that prompted Vanlalengmawia, who himself is a cancer survivor , to form the foundation few years back.


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