Half of world's stomach cancer victims in China

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smoking BEIJING (Reuters) - China accounts for about half of the global annual death toll from stomach cancer due to the Chinese taste for pickled and smoked food and unabashed enthusiasm for smoking, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The disease kills about 300,000 people in China a year and there are 400,000 new cases reported annually, Xinhua said in a report seen on Wednesday.

Only lung and liver cancer kill more people in China, it quoted Jin Maolin, a doctor at Peking University, as saying.

Though men aged over 50 are most at risk, the number of women in rural areas who have contracted stomach cancer has risen 25 percent in the past five years, Jin said.

 

Chinese people need to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and cut down on salted and pickled food -- very popular in China -- as well as smoking and drinking to reduce the risks, he added.

The World Health Organization and Chinese Health Ministry warned earlier this year that a surge in chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes due to changing lifestyles could kill up to 80 million people in China in the next decade.

Chinese urban residents today eat double the amount of meat they did 20 years ago and both men and woman were smoking at an earlier age, the health ministry said.

The WHO wants developing countries, where most such deaths occur, to copy Western nations by discouraging tobacco use and curbing salt, sugar and saturated fats in food.

They could have their work cut out for them in China, home to the world's most enthusiastic smokers who smoke about two trillion cigarettes a year, according to the Chinese government.

© Reuters 2006

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