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Cancer cases rise in Assam in three years, arsenic suspected

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Guwahati, March 26: Cancer cases have risen in Assam in the last three years, which may be linked to high content of arsenic found in drinking water in small pockets of the state.

According to the data, cancer cases rose from 37,880 in 2020 to 39,787, which is a concerning figure.

Replying to a question whether cancer cases are rising day by day in most parts of Assam and Bihar due to high content of arsenic found in drinking water in these states, Union minister of state for health Bharati Pravin Pawar on Friday informed the Lok Sabha that the estimated number of incidences of cancer cases in both the states have increased in the last three years.

The minister said long-term exposure to arsenic may also cause cancer of the bladder and lungs.

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In her reply, Pawar said, “Prolonged use of arsenic contaminated water for drinking causes several diseases, predominantly skin pigmentation, thickening, hard patches on the palms and soles of the feet (hyperkeratosis). These occur after a minimum exposure of approximately five years and may be a precursor to skin cancer.”

The corresponding figure in the case of Bihar has been even higher and has gone up from 1,03,711 in 2020 to 1,09,274 in 2022.

According to a previous assessment published by the state public health engineering department, 6,881 habitations in the state are affected by arsenic across 20 districts.

Baksa district in lower Assam had highest 1,506 such affected habitations. In upper Assam’s Jorhat district, 1454 habitations were affected followed by 1,342 in Nalbari.

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