(NaturalNews) Rates of breast cancer and birth defects are on the rise in China, largely due to the increasing adoption of a Western diet and a boom in coal mining, respectively, according to state-run media reports.
According to an article in the "China Daily," rates of breast cancer in Shanghai have increased by 31 percent in the last 10 years, to a current rate of 55 per 100,000 women. Rates in Beijing have increased by 23 percent over the same period, up to 45 per 100,000.
At the same time, the number of obese Chinese has reached 60 million. While this is less than five percent of the population (compared with 30 percent in the United States), it is equivalent to the entire population of France.
"Unhealthy lifestyles are mostly to blame for the growing numbers," said Qiao Youlin of the Cancer Institute and Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
Among the lifestyle factors that Qiao cited are poor diets, increasing pollution and stress.
The Chinese diet has changed radically in the past few years, as people have increasingly adopted the high-fat, high-junk food diet common in the West and turned away from the traditional diet high in vegetables, grains and tofu.
At the same time, China's rapid industrialization has led to a surge in levels of environmental pollution. According to a report by the Xinhua News Agency, birth defects in coal mining areas of the country have also skyrocketed in recent years.
The rate of birth defects in China increased by almost 50 percent between 2001 and 2006, up to 145.5 defects per 10,000 births, or nearly 1.5 percent. According to Xinhua, the rate is substantially higher than this in the coal mining regions of Shanxi province.
The most common varieties of cancer in China are breast and cervical cancer.