Parsis More Prone to Cancer: Study

An alarming statistic emerging from the Mumbai Cancer Registry indicates that Parsis are at a higher risk of getting cancer than those from other communities.

By Jyoti Shelar / DNA

According to the registry, which is a unit of the Indian Cancer Registry, a higher number of Parsis, especially women, had cancer as compared to others. The reason: high life expectancy, delayed marriages and delayed childbirth.

The data compiled by the Mumbai Cancer Registry till 2008 states that 122 Parsi males per 1,00,000, and 178 Parsi females per 1,00,000, had various types of cancer. “The incidence was much less among other communities,” said Dr BB Yeole, director, Mumbai Cancer Registry.

Among Hindus, the number was 75 males and 97 females; Muslims, 66 males and 73 females; Christians, 85 males and 81 females per 1,00,000. The registry is currently compiling data for 2009.

According to Yeole, the findings can be attributed to food habits, lifestyle and life expectancy of Parsis. “Most Parsis are non-vegetarians, marry very late and have very high-life expectancy, increasing their chances of getting cancer,” Yeole said.

The data was complied by the registry from more than 100 hospitals within Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation limits.
Dr Mandar Nadkarni, consultant breast surgeon, Kokilaben Hospital, said, “We have observed that Parsi women have higher incidence of breast cancer. The trend is mainly because they get married very late and thus childbirth is also delayed.”

In women, giving birth after 30, doubles the chances of breast cancer. Breastfeeding for less than one year is also said to be one of the causes of breast cancer. “Also, due to their high life expectancy, the chances of getting cancer automatically increase with age,” Nadkarni added.

The Tata Memorial Hospital is currently in the process of compiling a detailed study on Parsis and cancer, and is also looking at genetic factors as contributors.

  • zenobia

    Am sure this doesn’t come as a shock to any of us parsis….the incidence of Cancer is parsi’s has always been at the top of the graph.Another cause is also consumption of red meat & animal fats in a higher proportion compared to the other communities.It would be nice to know the detailed study conducted by the Tata Memorial & educate us better.

  • Silloo Kapadia

    I agree. One’s diet is very important. Also products that we are exposed to. With most East Asian diets becoming more Westernized, cancer rates are rising. Also products such as deodorant that contain aluminum can be dangerous.

    I suggest avoiding beef, pork and lamb as much as possible. Try to stay away fron diary products. Also use products that do not contain aluminum.

  • Behram Dhabhar

    What food products contain aluminium ? I hear that most antacid medicines have aluminium content.

  • shireen

    This article seems framed in such a way as to suggest women’s lifestyle choices are responsible for their own cancer,without considering genetics and toxins in the enviroment. Delaying or deciding against marriage and childbirth in favor of education and career has been a right women have struggled for worldwide.
    While everyone,from children to the elderly could benefit from more exercise,better diet, and reduced exposure to toxins and carcinogens,there are other healthy habits that my Parsi family modeled for me: cook delicious,vegetable-based home food and eat together with great doses of merriment.Enjoy tea & cards daily with much laughter.While my family may not have had the most luxurious home, it was rich in love and happiness. And my Parsi great-uncle, a practicing yogi until his 90s, was even more effective at keeping his life stress-free and his body in great health.

  • Ahsan Rafique Butt

    Respected Lady (if I am not at fault),
    You are right. You know every one has to leave this world one day. All these diseases are just excuses; it doesn’t mean that we should leave to bother about our health. We must take hygenic foods, must exercise on daily basis, spend time with our family, try to do good to everybody who comes across. But here I will dare to say that one must make marriage with a suitable match as early as possible, because it eliminates so many social evils. Circumstances may differ from case to case.

  • Ahsan Rafique Butt

    Do Parsees take pork? Is it not prohibited by through your Holy Books?

  • saf

    Milk. One of the high risk factors in growth of cancer cells is consumption of milk and dairy products.

  • Dear Mr. Butt:
    To the best of my knowledge,that way there is no reference in any scripture about Divorces and dissolution of marriages yet all communities have Divorce Laws.(Civil Laws). Ardavirafnama mentions punishment in after life for those who have been infidel in married life. But that does not deter Parsees from getting their marriages dissolved due to incompatibility of their nature and unwillingness to adjust.Similar is the case with food habits. Do we need scriptural reference to desist from certain food items?

  • saf

    True Anti-Dhongidox. Just like to add, its ridiculous to assume that books written thousands and hundreds of years ago can be referred to lead a life today. None of those books talk about use of computers and cell phones yet we use them for our benefits… They don’t even yap about traveling in cars and planes… or eating pizzas…But we indulge in all these as per our understanding, don’t we?!! With times we change the way we perceive things, the way we behave… Adaptation to new life becomes necessary for our existence rather than follow outdated books written by men who had no clue about the life in future….Take for example – Do civilize societies today support stoning of women found guilty of extramarital affairs? Yet such outdated stuff can be found in religious scriptures of most religions including Zoroastrians texts… But women today[even amongst the HYPOCRITE ORTHODOX BREED] simply seek divorce to get rid of marriage that didn’t work out. Am I right?

    On eating habits too, pre Zoroastrian Aryans were pastoral tribals… They had the tradition to look after their cattle that formed an important part of their economy… therefore it became a custom amongst Zoroastrians to show more compassion towards cattles particularly cows. Even today there are Zoroastrians who abstain from eating beef… though i have seen many parsees staying abroad relishing beef as any other meat product…
    But according to me, slaughter of any animal for food is equivalent to a cold blood murder… And any scriptures that supports it, is barbaric…

    And all those religionuts who think they have to function as per the books written 3,000 years ago without reforming it to the present times, are as pathetic as that 3,000 year old K’aba of Zarathustra that is lying in ruins thanks to no repairs done on it…

    -Saroush Behizadeh