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Ultra-processed food, sedentary lifestyle risk cancers in Indians under 40, reveal doctors

Ultra-processed foods and sedentary lifestyles are linked to increased cancer risks in Indians under 40, according to doctors. Learn more about these concerning health trends and preventive measures.

Written By: Muskan Gupta @guptamuskan_ New Delhi Published on: June 23, 2024 16:18 IST
Ultra-processed food
Image Source : SOCIAL Ultra-processed food, sedentary lifestyle risk cancers

The incidence of cancer among individuals under 40 years old in India is on the rise, with medical professionals attributing this troubling trend to poor lifestyle choices and increasing pollution. According to doctors, the regular consumption of ultra-processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle are significant contributors to the spike in cancer cases among younger populations.

Factors Contributing to Increase in Cancer Cases

Several factors are responsible for the increasing cancer rates among young people in India:

  • Diet and Lifestyle: Increased consumption of processed foods, tobacco, and alcohol, along with sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and stress, are primary contributors. These lifestyle choices have created a significant health crisis, with ultra-processed foods laden with unhealthy additives playing a central role.
  • Environmental Pollution: High levels of pollution in India's cities are another critical factor. Air and water pollution expose individuals to carcinogenic substances, significantly elevating their cancer risk.

Dr. Rahul Bhargava, Director and Head of the Department of Haematology and BMT at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, emphasised the seriousness of the situation. "Ultra-processed foods and sedentary lifestyles are emerging as significant contributors to the rising cancer rates among young Indians. The high intake of these foods, laden with unhealthy additives, combined with physical inactivity, is creating a health crisis. It's imperative to adopt healthier dietary habits and an active lifestyle to curb this alarming trend, " he told IANS.

Study Findings on Young Cancer Patients

A recent study by the Cancer Mukt Bharat Foundation, a Delhi-based non-profit, reveals that 20% of cancer cases in India are now diagnosed in people below 40 years of age. The study highlights a gender disparity, with men constituting 60% of these young cancer patients, while women make up the remaining 40%. This difference is partly due to higher rates of tobacco use, occupational exposure, and certain lifestyle choices among men in India.

Dr. Ashish Gupta, Principal Investigator and Senior Oncologist at Unique Hospital Cancer Centre in Delhi, echoed these concerns. "In our country, escalating rates of obesity, change in dietary habits, specifically the increase in consumption of ultra-processed food, and sedentary lifestyles are associated with higher cancer rates," he said. Dr. Gupta, who also heads the Cancer Mukt Bharat Campaign, stressed the urgent need for lifestyle interventions to combat this rise in cancer rates among young Indians.

Calls for Action

Doctors are calling for a concerted effort from the government, healthcare professionals, and the community to address the rising cancer rates among young adults. Dr. Gupta highlighted the importance of comprehensive policies promoting clean air and water, regular physical activity, and access to nutritious food. "Additionally, we must invest in better healthcare infrastructure to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment," he added.

The rising cancer rates among young people in India signal a pressing need for lifestyle changes and environmental improvements to safeguard the health of future generations.

(with IANS inputs)

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