Life in the metropolis faces new health threats

Beijing – Cancer has become the leading killer of Beijingers, with the incidence of chronic diseases rising sharply.

This is in contrast to the situation nationwide where cerebrovascular disease remains the No 1 cause of death, according to statistics from the Beijing 2010 Health White Paper.

“The situation in the capital is more in line with a global trend where cancer becomes the leading cause of death in nations that have experienced considerable economic development,” said Gu Jin, professor of Peking University School of Oncology.

The increasing prevalence of cancer is closely associated with changing lifestyles in the nation, Gu said. The incidence of cancer has increased by 80 percent over the past 30 years, official statistics showed.

Each year, about 2.6 million people on the mainland develop cancer, which claims 1.8 million lives annually.

Among varied kinds of cancer, lung, liver, stomach, esophageal and colorectal cancers are the top five killers, according to statistics from the Health Ministry.

Gu said much-improved living conditions powered by China’s rapid economic growth have also led to greater consumption of fat and protein, more pollution, mounting work pressure, particularly in large cities, and a sedentary lifestyle.

“These risk factors are related to more cancer cases, particularly in urban areas,” he said.

Besides cancer, other major health challenges facing Beijing residents include heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, the head of the Beijing Health Bureau, Fang Laiying, said while releasing the white paper on Monday.

“Diseases related to lifestyles are climbing quickly, even among children,” he said.

Compared with other areas of China, Beijing residents live longer, largely due to better education status and high-quality healthcare services in the city, Fang said.

By 2010, the life expectancy of citizens with residency permits was close to 81 years, up 0.3 of a year over 2009, the white paper revealed.

According to the white paper, nearly 47 percent of local primary school students suffered from poor eyesight, with the proportion increasing to about 78 percent among middle school students.

Hou Fan, a mother of a secondary school boy in Beijing, told China Daily that due to tough academic competition many students spent too much time reading or in front of computers.

“It’s easier to count how many in the class are not shortsighted,” she said.

Internet addiction is also affecting local young people, the white paper found.

Nearly 4 percent of middle school students in Beijing suffer from Internet addiction, 4.8 percent among boys and 2.9 percent for girls, it said.

Spending more time with computers and less doing physical exercise is also creating weight problems.

Sourece: China Daily

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