‘Childhood leukaemia linked to less exposure to surroundings’

Kolkata, Feb 23 (IANS) With children getting more and more isolated in terms of interactions with their surroundings, occurrences of childhood leukaemia could increase in India, according to a cancer expert.

“There is a clear co-relation between incidence of childhood leukaemia and prosperity. It is lower in India than in other countries but as we become more prosperous our incidences are rising,” Vaskar Saha, professor of paediatric oncology, Children’s Cancer Group, Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Manchester, told IANS here.

Saha, an authority on the subject, is also the director of Tata Translational Cancer Research Centre (TTCRC) here. He was speaking at the life science symposium at the Presidency University organised in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance.

Elaborating on the connect between leukaemia in children and prosperity, Saha said kids who rarely come in contact with infections because of their predominantly indoor nature of activities, courtesy access to internet and gadgets, are more likely to get the blood cancer.

“There is some evidence to suggest that origins of leukaemia lie in an unusual response to normal infections. So if you have children who are more or less isolated and come rarely in contact with infections, they are more likely to get leukaemia.

“When we grew up we played on the streets… this generation of children do you ever see them play on the streets? Our environment, for all classes of families now,is getting channelised and children are getting isolated. Probably one of the reasons why you will start seeing more occurrence of childhood leukaemia,” added Saha.

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