Punjab: The Cancer Capital of India

CHANDIGARH, PUNJAB—The country’s food bowl is in the throes of cancer. At 90 cancer patients for every 1lakh population in Punjab, it’s more than the national average of 80 per lakh. The Malwa region of the state – known as the cancer belt – has the highest average of 136 cancer patients per 1 lakh people, reveals a Punjab government study released on Monday.

Data over the last five years has shown that, on an average, 18 people die of cancer each day. There are 23,874 cancer patients in the state and 33,318 lives have been lost in cancer-related deaths during last five years.

What’s worse is that nearly 24,000 people in the state are confirmed cancer cases and there are three times more — 84,453 people — who are suspected to be suffering from t
he deadly disease.

The Malwa region of Punjab has recorded a high of 107.4 cancer-afflicted for every 1 lakh. And, Muktsar district in Malwa has fared the worst with 136.3 patients for every lakh.

These figures were revealed after the state health department, for the first time, undertook a comprehensive door-to-door campaign to know the state of affairs in Punjab.

“I feel the country’s food bowl is paying the price for its productivity and a large number of cancer cases are due to excessive use of pesticides in the fields.” said Punjab health minister Madan Mohan Mittal.

The Malwa region, comprising Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Patiala, Sangrur among other districts, has recorded cancer incidence of 107.4 per lakh as against the national figure of 80 per lakh. Majha, comprising Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Taran Taran, has clocked the lowest incidence of 64.7 cases of cancer per lakh population. The rich Doaba region, including, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Phagwara, Kapurthala, has confirmed 88.1 cancer patients per lakh of population.

Punjab health secretary Vini Mahajan said the figures recorded are based on patients’ own analysis. “These are figures where people themselves have confirmed that they are suffering from cancer, or their relatives have died of it. We gave them a list of symptoms of cancer and the 85,000 people who suspect they are suffering from the disease will now be made to undergo all tests to confirm it,” she said.

“I am satisfied that things are not so bad as were made out to be,” said Mittal.


  1. If Punjab people are now paying the price for the excessive use of pesticides to feed millions of hungry Indians in all other states, then it becomes the full responsibility of Indian Govt. to help punjabi families who are suffering from this disease financially and with all other facilities, such as doctors, hospitals, medicines and proper care of cancer patients. It has also been brought to light that Punjab farmers have been using insecticides and pesticides, which were banned in all other nations and this all when Indian Govt. and its agencies had a full knowledge. As a matter of fact it is not less than a criminal act.

    If India does not take full responsibility, Punjab farmers have a right to stop using pesticides and produce crops using traditional methods only. This so called “Green Revolution” may have been a blessing for rest of India but has been a curse for Punjab.


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