• There is an estimated 315 million smokers in China.

There is an estimated 315 million smokers in China. (Photo : Getty Images)

During the eve of World Cancer Day, Feb. 4, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged China to tackle cancer, which has been killing far too many people in the world's most populous nation, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

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According to WHO statistics, more than 2.8 million people died of cancer in China last year. This means that on average, there are 7,500 cancer-caused deaths per day in the country.

In an official statement, the body called the attention of Chinese citizens, asking them to "give up smoking, get more exercise, moderate their alcohol intake, and eat healthier food," the report noted.

Earlier studies and researches have proven that smoking, poor diet, alcohol abuse and lack of physical activity significantly increase the risk of cancer.

For Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, representative for the WHO in China, "the real tragedy is that most of these cases are preventable."

Data shows that in China, 30 percent of the cancer deaths are caused by lung cancer. Schwartlander noted that there are more than 315 million smokers in the country, and this figure has been continually increasing.

"Nearly half of all Chinese men smoke. Unsurprisingly, lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among men," the WHO envoy said..

"Cancer is not just an individual health issue--it reaches into all aspects of society, including the economy and the public health system," he further stated, emphasizing the greater national impact of not controlling smoking on cancer.

Schwartlander suggested that the Chinese government should turn its attention on raising awareness on healthy lifestyles. Health authorities must also take the lead in promoting early diagnosis as well as improving treatment.

Nonetheless, the medical expert lauded China's ongoing medical reforms, stating that it "should help to improve the situation," the Xinhua article said.

The government has been introducing health reforms and improving medical services especially in the country's less developed rural areas. These initiatives include providing free screenings for breast and cervical cancer and banning of smoking in public places.