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Thursday, February 4, 2016, 14:58

China gets WHO warning over lifestyle

By Xinhua
China gets WHO warning over lifestyle
A woman smokes a cigarette in Beijing on June 1, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR)

BEIJING - The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned China about its high rate of cancer deaths, urging the population to give up smoking and to adopt more healthy diets and lifestyles.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the eve of World Cancer Day, the WHO noted that more than 2.8 million people died of cancer in China last year, with an average 7,500 such deaths per day.

"The real tragedy is that most of these cases are preventable," said Dr Bernhard Schwartlander, representative for the WHO in China.

Smoking, alcohol abuse, poor diets and lack of physical activity all greatly increase the risks of cancer.

About 30 percent of cancer deaths are caused by lung cancer in China.

"There are over 315 million smokers in China, and the number continues to rise. Nearly half of all Chinese men smoke. Unsurprisingly, lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among men," Schwartlander said.

A report by the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) in June supported the WHO's evaluation. It said more than 85 percent of all deaths in China are from chronic diseases, with cancer and chronic respiratory issues among the top causes.

The NHFPC attributed the situation to smoking, excessive drinking, insufficient exercise and diets featuring too much salt and fat.

Schwartlander also stressed the broader national impact of not controlling smoking on cancer. "Cancer is not just an individual health issue -- it reaches into all aspects of society, including the economy and the public health system," he said.

The medical expert suggested the country focus on raising people's awareness of healthy lifestyles, promoting early diagnosis and improving treatment, saying that China's ongoing health reforms should help the cause.

The country has been restructuring the public health network and improving services in less developed rural areas, including free screenings for cervical cancer and breast cancer among rural women.

Beijing and a number of other cities have also banned smoking in public places.

Last summer, hit Chinese film "Go Away Mr. Tumor," about a cartoonist with cancer, showed its female protagonist burning the midnight oil, eating junk food and working under pressure, all common among young Chinese.

The character was based on a woman who died of lymphoma in her twenties.

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