A growing number of Chinese women are suffering from breast cancer due to unhealthy diets, a poor environment and increased stress at work, experts have said.
The latest figures from the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention show the incidence of the disease in Beijing and Shanghai has spiked in the past decade.
In the capital, about 45 women out of every 100,000 currently have the disease, 23 percent more than in 1997.
In Shanghai, the number is 55 in 100,000, up 31 percent in the past decade.
A recent survey by the Chinese Anti-cancer Association showed an even higher rate in Shanghai -- with 60 women in 100,000 suffering from the disease, equivalent to about 4,500 new cases every year. In 1972, the figure was just 17 in 100,000.
Professor Qiao Youlin of the Cancer Institute and Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences said Monday: "Unhealthy lifestyles are mostly to blame for the growing numbers.
"Researchers found that just 10 percent of the cases are due to heredity.
"Chinese women, especially those living in cities, should pay extra attention to their health and examine their breasts for any suspicious lumps on a monthly basis," he told China Daily.
Symptoms to look out for include unusual pains in the breasts or armpits, he said.
Qiao said women should quit smoking and drinking alcohol, stop using cosmetics that contain estrogen, exercise more, go to bed earlier and cut down on oily foods.
Retired English teacher Dai Weiwen was diagnosed with a malignant tumor at the mid-stages of the disease in late 2000. The 61-year-old Shanghai resident said she had been aware of the tumor for nearly a decade before it got worse.
"I tired easily but thought it was from work," she said.
Dai had her left breast removed when the cancer cells spread, but her condition is now stable. She is now involved in programs aimed at tackling the disease around the world.
Qiao said more needs to be done to raise awareness of the disease.
(China Daily October 30, 2007)