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.