Health experts have warned against lifestyle changes mimicking the West as a major reason for the high incidence of breast cancer in India.

Ayush, Breast Cancer Day Summit, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, World Health OrganizationHealth experts have warned against lifestyle changes mimicking the West as a major reason for the high incidence of breast cancer in India.

Speaking on the second National Breast Cancer Day, lawmakers today called for a coordinated, multisectoral approach to expanding awareness, diagnosis and treatment.

As part of Breast Cancer Prevention Month, National Breast Cancer Day was organized by the Council on Integrated Health and Wellness (IHW), with support from Novartis. The experts also discussed that breast cancer affects women in both towns and villages and urged people to adopt healthy lifestyle practices.

The rapid spread of chronic and debilitating non-communicable diseases causes about 60% of deaths in India. Breast cancer accounts for about 27% of all cancers in women in India and affects the 40-year-old group more than others, as opposed to 55 to 60 in developed countries. Awareness is very important because it leads to early identification of the disease. I believe there are three pillars to preventing death from breast cancer such as promoting health among women, timely diagnosis and comprehensive treatment. We should make men aware of breast cancer too – they are important to healthcare and support mechanisms. Besides, community organizations need to be strengthened as much as media campaigns – we will need people, health experts and others to join in the important effort to develop a risk reduction strategy; I would be happy to provide any assistance needed by the IHW Campaign Board on Health Promotion and Diagnostics,” says Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Government of India.

Dr. Munjbara Mahendrabhai Kalobhai, Minister of State for Ayush Affairs and Women and Child Development, Government of India says, “Cancer cases in India are growing at an alarming speed. It is the biggest killer of cancer among women in India and more and more women are affected. Whether it is a woman in the city or a woman from village, the problem is common. We must think of ways to guide them towards adopting a healthy lifestyle that will reduce the risk of cancer such as avoiding processed foods, practicing meditation, yoga or any other form of regular exercise, and knowing herbs and spices suitable for a tropical environment. People in and around India have been leading healthy lives for centuries. I also urge the medical fraternity to extend breast cancer treatment to the remotest areas. Better diagnostic and treatment facilities are needed and Ayushman Bharat has helped women in rural and remote areas.”

“Breast cancer awareness leads to action and the pharmaceutical industry must play the role of a platform provider and an ecosystem builder. We also need to make sure our near and dear ones are screened. We have come a long way in terms of treating breast cancer with methods like the radiation protocol, but innovative screening methods will be critically important,” says Sumil Modi, General Manager, Novartis Oncology, India.

“As India is on a fast track of growth to become a developed country, there is an opportunity to imitate their way of life too – changes in lifestyle will have a huge impact as in recent times, this has led to a higher incidence of breast cancer. The lactation period has been shortened in cities. Creating awareness of the disease is a major challenge, says Padma Bhushan Dr. SH Advani, Director of Medical Oncology at Jaslok Hospital and Research Center in Mumbai.

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