The number of lung cancer cases in Beijing have doubled in the past decade as the Chinese capital continue to choke on worsening air quality.
Latest figures show a sharp increase of over 50% from 39.56 lung cancer patients per 100,000 people in 2002 to 63.09 by 2011. Although the data did not reveal whether air pollution was the main cause of lung cancer among those diagnosed with the disease.
Beijing health officials blamed smoking for the rise in lung cancer cases in the city, and said that other culprits were secondhand smoke and environmental pollution.
While 320 million Chinese smoke, the number of smokers in Beijing has fallen in recent years. Air pollution, on the other hand, soared by 30% in the first few months of 2013.
A World Health Organization report said air pollution is the leading cause of lung cancer as well as other diseases and illnesses.
Breathing in fine particles contributed to 3.2 million premature deaths a year across the world and killed more than 200,000 from lung cancer, according to WHO.
“More than half of the lung cancer deaths attributable to ambient fine particles were projected to have been in China and other East Asian countries,” the report said.
An eight-year-old girl in Jiangsu province became the youngest lung cancer patient after being diagnosed with the disease earlier this week. Doctors blamed poor air quality.
Decades of rapid industrialization has caused air quality across China to plummet, shrouding the capital in toxic smog.
Last month, hazardous smog forced Chinese authorities to shut down Harbin, one of the country’s largest cities. Classes were suspended and flights were cancelled after visibility was reduced to near zero.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: freddie boy/Flickr