Hyderabad: India is possibly staring at a health crisis in the next few decades with cancer likely to emerge as one of the biggest public health challenges by the year 2050. Cancer could be one of the most common of the diseases in India, Dr Stefan Gluck, professor of immunology and haematology, from Miami, Florida, has said.
Dr Gluck, agreed with the rising cancer numbers in the country that were cited by Dr Vijay Anand Reddy, director of Apollo Cancer Institutes, who on Thursday said that new cancer cases were rising in the country. While four lakhs new cases were recorded in India in 2014, this number, in 2019, rose to 15 lakhs, Dr Reddy had said.
Speaking with Deccan Chronicle, Dr Gluck, here in the city to attend the 8th Cancer Conference International-2020, expressed concern over the rising number of cancer patients and the changing food habits and lifestyles of Indians. “Indian cuisine is the best food to eat healthy and stay illness-free. I was surprised to see many people who are overweight now than during my previous visit to India 25 years ago,” Dr Gluck said.
The increase in lifestyle related disease burden among Indians, he said, was a result of a “huge shift in lifestyles in the Indian population. Food habits have changed. Sedentary lifestyle adds is also an important cause”.
He also said diabetes, which is assuming epidemic proportions in India, is because of the new kinds of foods and their lifestyles.
“As I travelled in the city here, I saw many international fast food or processed food outlets. Such food ultimately contributes to bad health. I prefer eating Indian food, mostly vegetarian, and some non-vegetarian soups which are very healthy. I try to include fruits and vegetable salads in every meal,” he said.
Smoking of tobacco also contributes to the increasing number of cancer cases, he said.
Dr Gluck had a simple prescription for people to avoid lifestyle related illnesses. “Do not eat in excess. Avoid tobacco usage. Say no to processed food and exercise regularly which is a must,” he said. He also had some advice to parents saying it their duty to ensure that their children get a daily dose of physical activity,” Dr Gluck said.
Asked about early detection of cancer, Dr Gluck said not only would this help in helping in curing the patient of the disease but early detection requires education of the people and might cost money. “Many individuals are not in a position to go for regular medical checkups,” he said.
On women and chances of them developing cancer, Dr Gluck said Indian mothers breast feed their babies for a longer period than women in many other countries. “This practice helps in prevention of breast cancer compared to women in the West. In this way, the baby also gets the best nourishment from the mother,” Dr Gluck said.
When asked about new methods to improve immunity to cancer and suggestions to youngsters on this front, Dr Gluck said: “Twenty years ago, two proteins were discovered — CTL A-4 and PD-1. These proteins prevent people from developing immunity to cancer. When these proteins are removed, cancer is cured. We are mostly working on this method.”
On advice to youngsters, he said the younger generation is sticking to gadgets, and television sets.
They should stay away from processed food, stay away from stress. “Children in the West are kept very clean all the time which is not good as this will not help a child develop natural immunity to bacteria. Here in India, they allow children to play in mud, which is good,” he said....