Sarah Knapton, the science editor of UK’s The Telegraph reported that the cancer rate in young people has risen 40% in 16 years. She lays the blame on air pollution, pesticides, poor diets and a rise in electrical and magnetic fields. [Lucky for Sarah that she doesn’t work for ABC’s Catalyst program or she’d be severely censured for expressing such a view.]
Dr Denis Henshaw, Professor of Human Radiation Effects at Bristol University, the scientific adviser for Children with Cancer UK, listed magnetic fields from power lines, gadgets in homes, and potentially, radiation from mobile phones among the likely culprits.
“When you look at cancers such as childhood leukaemia there is no doubt that environmental factors are playing a big role,” said Dr Henshaw. “We were shocked to see the figures, and it’s modern lifestyle I’m afraid.”
“…….electric fields of power lines, the electricity supply in your home. Hairdryers. It’s all of these things coming together, and it seems to be teenagers and young people that are most affected.
More than 4,000 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer every year in Britain, and cancer is the leading cause of death in children aged one to 14.
Diagnoses of colon cancer among children and young people has risen 200 per cent since 1998, while thyroid cancer has doubled. Ovarian and cervical cancers have also risen by 70 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.
It is estimated that the rise in cases now costs the National Health System an extra £130 million a year compared with 16 years ago.
Nicola Smith, Cancer Research UK’s senior health information officer, said: “There are some factors which can increase the risk of childhood cancer like inherited genetic conditions and exposure to radiation – but these are usually not avoidable and no one should feel blamed for a child getting cancer.
Kate Lee, chief executive of children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent, said that a child cancer diagnosis places a huge emotional and financial burden on the whole family.
Despite the increase, around 80 per cent of child cancer patients now survive for at least five years. But the aggressive treatments they have as children can have a major impact on their future health, even if they survive.
Abridged from The Telegraph