The Quotidian Illness Crisis
This age of technology has given us privileges which ancestors could only have dreamed of. With technology, humans connect. With technology, humans travel. With technology humans evolve. But this very technology is one of the reasons why the most astute of all beings lies today, succumbed to the power of Cancer.
Someone rightly said, “Just because you’re not dead doesn’t mean you’re living”. This is true for us, humans, because we do not know what it is in our routine that is killing our species so slowly that we hardly realize its graveness. And not knowing what will cause our death is a good as we being dead.
According to WHO statistics 8.8 million people died of Cancer in the year 2015. Which means: Of each group of 6 people who died globally, 1 would die of cancer. What is even more fascinating according to stats is that 30 to 50% of these cancer deaths could be avoided. Which means we could actually go on to save a minimum of 3,00,000 individuals globally who would otherwise die of cancer.
World Cancer Statistics – source – LinkedIn
A number of countries have above average economic expenditure due to such illnesses which save neither the individual nor the economy. As blatant as it sounds, whatever has been done in the past, has worked, but with minimum to nil effect. Majority of people and especially those from low socio-economic statuses have no access to treatment or medicines or even a specialized doctor for that matter.
Of the 14 million new cases of cancer worldwide, in 2012, only 5.8 million survived. This means that there were close to 8.2 million people who died of this quotidian illness. I say quotidian because this illness has become more than just common in today’s generation. Small kids and adolescents are being diagnosed with cancer each day, and at an ever increased speed. The entire existence of human species is in-question when it comes to this growing rate of cancer incidence.
The good part, however, is that we can, to some extent, take care of our well-being. We can achieve this by first being aware of our intake; Intake of food, legal/illegal substances and even technology. Yes, technology! There are theories, given by the WHO, that state that radiation from phones etc. might be one of the leading causes of the incidence of brain cancer. There is umpteen we can discuss on this topic but for today we would like to start simple.
Be careful of what you put in your body
The tragedy about today’s dietary plans is that you need not be unhealthy to be more prone to cancer. You could be totally healthy and yet be equally prone to getting cancer. “How?” you may ask. I have the privilege of blaming the human growth spurt and well, technology. With the world population increasing every day, the agriculture sector has an increased pressure to feed all those mouths.
Moreover, climate change hasn’t helped us much either. With multiple droughts, less rainfall with each passing year and ground tolerance to pests and weeds crops are being ruined and hence there is very little to feed the world from. This is primarily the point of those nations which have allowed GMOs to splurge in their country. I would however like to briefly mention the average amount of food that is wasted by an individual on an average and the amount of crop that goes waste from not getting a good price in the market.
To feed the ego, though, of many, I would like to go with the point that the world is short on food.
What do we do? We find new ways to save crops and feed more mouths. These new ways,such as the promotion of genetic modification to process food and crops are worth million dollars and like many new articles say: Not beneficial to the body but certainly beneficial to the economy. GMOs react with proteins in our body to produce allergic reactions. In fact in 19 studies done by GMeducation mammals reacted to GM soy and maize producing toxic effects in their liver and kidneys. In yet another study done in 2012 and published in 2014, the intake of Monsato GM corn was linked to growth of tumors and death in rats. The study was said to have unethical methodology and so was retracted, but the researchers claimed that this was done to protect the economic interest of Monsato.
GM food – source – Integrative Answers
The pesticides, used to rid the crop off pests are highly carcinogenic in nature such as organochlorines, creosote, and sulfallate. Others such as the organochlorines DDT, chlordane, and lindane promote the presence of tumors. Enough and more studies have been done on the ill-effects of these pesticides on animals and many theories state that these so-called medicines in fact expose humans to cancers (such as leukaemia). Pesticides attack the most vulnerable of all too: the foetuses. Studies show that, exposure to these could lead to higher risk of children developing cancer.
The next set of plant drugs are a group which have undergone extensive research and are still termed as ‘probable and possible carcinogen’. These are the Herbicides. Several studies done all over the world depict that people who have been in constant touch with these chemicals are at a higher risk of getting a certain type of cancer known as ‘Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma’. However there are other studies that go against this thought. Number of animal studies done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), led it to it creating this ‘probable and possible’ class of carcinogens. Herbicides such as Glyphosate (which also happens to be one of the widest used herbicides all over the world) has been linked to the tumors in mice and rats.
How safe is your Country?
A number of countries have allowed GMOs to be cultivated in their fields. Their fear is valid. Loss of food especially for the urban population can put the development of the country and its economy at stake. Take a look at the list of countries that allow the usage of or ban the usage of GMOs here.
GMOs are used highly in fast foods and seasonal crops. A lot of restaurants in America and other places use genetically modified foods as a routine.
Fortunately for India, there are laws that still stand-up against the processing of GM food. Although there have been efforts to produce Genetically Modified (GM) Haldi crops in India, the government has a lot of debating to do before the crop actually come out to the public. According to NICPR India is the largest contributor to world Cancer deaths with 2,500 people dying of cancer, each day. The high usage of alcohol and tobacco are primary reasons behind these elevated statistics of cancer rate (i.e., primarily oral and lung cancer). Couldn’t imagine what would happen if the GMO processed food came through for consumption.
Advances in technology might have saved a number of crops from not looking infected, physically. But the entire food-chain is at risk, just because of the unsure usage of GMOs. Crops are saved, mouths are fed. It is essential to use GMOs because many people go hungry. But yet tons and tons of food goes wasted, tons and tons of unsold crops are trampled upon due to their excess, tons and tons of garbage goes into the sea, each day. If the usage of these items was so necessary then their should have been no food and crop wastage. These unnatural foods have entered, unnecessarily, our system through our very basic ‘healthy’ diet. If their usage is not reduced then there are chances for us to put the lives of our next generation at stake.And that’s the only point I make here. Cancer incidence can be reduced, if only we are aware.
Child getting a Hepatits B vaccine in rural India – source – The Conversation website
Before I close, I would like to however also bring into picture the good part of the usage of genetic modification. As surprising as it may sound, the same GMO which have claimed to take lives have also saved plenty. This is done by using GMO in the medical industry, GMOs have protected a number of people against viruses such as Ebola, Zika and Flu. The GM food crops and the vaccines against these disease in fact use the same molecular biology technology. The GMO technology is being embraced by the scientist now at a rapid pace with advances towards creation of more vaccines, monitoring and predicting new outbreaks of diseases. These advances (as well as the diseases) are pretty new and are still under observation and may take a while before we call it all safe.