Smoking and Smog a Deadly Duo in China

Nation on course to have one million lung cancer patients by 2025
By Lu Chen
Lu Chen
Lu Chen
November 19, 2013 Updated: November 19, 2013

Air not fit to breathe and smoking are together taking a steep toll on the health of the Chinese people.

By 2025, China is expected to have one million lung cancer patients, which will be the most of any nation in the world, according to the 6th China North-South Lung Cancer Summit hosted in Beijing Nov. 16-17.

Statistics from China’s Ministry of Health show that lung cancer has the highest mortality rate among all cancers in China and the rate has increased 465 percent during the past 30 years.

The incidence of lung cancer increases on average 26.9 percent each year, according to the Ministry of Health

One-Third of the World’s Smokers

Experts at the summit named smoking as a major cause for the increases in the mortality and incidence of lung cancer in China, and said controlling the use of tobacco would be a significant measure for preventing lung cancer.

Around 1 million Chinese die from diseases caused by smoking cigarettes every year. Experts at the summit predicted that around 2 million people will die from smoking related diseases by 2025, if no measures are taken to control tobacco, official reports say.

China produces the most cigarettes in the world every year—1.7 trillion cigarettes, 2.5 times of the United States, according to Chinese official report. China has 350 million smokers, nearly a third of the 1.1 billion smokers in the whole world.

Severe Air Pollution

Research shows that air pollution is closely related to lung cancer and other cardiovascular diseases.

Exposure to a certain level of fine particles in the air has been estimated to cause 3.2 million deaths from cardiovascular disease worldwide in 2010, according to report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization.

The report says 223,000 deaths were from lung cancer, and more than half of the lung cancer deaths were attributed to ambient fine particles in China and other East Asian countries.

Terrible air condition and heavy smog in China have been frequently reported this year. A number of elementary schools, airports, and highways were closed in the northern, central, and coastal regions of China last month due to heavy smog that was considered serious and hazardous pollution.

Beijing is going to invest 15 billion RMB (US$2.5 billion) in air pollution control in 2014, according to the Beijing Commission of Development and Reform. Beijing has arranged 8 billion RMB (US$1.3 billion) for air pollution control this year.

According to research done by the World Health Organization on outdoor air pollution in 1100 cities in 91 countries for the years 2008 and 2009, 21 of the worst 100 cities in level of air pollution are in China. 

Earlier this month, an 8 year old girl in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province was diagnosed with lung cancer, making her the youngest lung cancer patient worldwide. Local doctors blamed the air pollution as the major cause, indicating that the girl had breathed in too many fine particles by living next to a heavily trafficked road for years.

Lu Chen
Lu Chen