JAIPUR: In a statement which drew sharp reactions, Rajasthan health minister Parsadi Lal Meena on Friday said tobacco is not the only reason behind cancer because there are people who consume tobacco but do not get cancer.
He said that tobacco, bidi, and cancer have no link, which was condemned by an organisation working against tobacco. "Those who do not consume tobacco also get cancer. It also happens that those who heavily consume tobacco do not get this disease," he told reporters after addressing a seminar on World Cancer Day here.
"I live in village and there are people who consume tobacco 20 times a day, but they never become cancer patients in their life, after 80 years, 100 years. Whereas those who do not consume become a cancer patient," he said.
The minister was replying to a query about the state government's efforts to curb use of tobacco. He said cancer can happen to anyone and it is for the doctors to describe the causes in detail.
Condemning the statement, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, an NGO, demanded resignation from the minister.
"This irresponsible statement by a state minister, that too Health Minister, outrightly rejecting facts established by solid scientific evidence all over the world is worrying in many ways," it said in a statement.
"Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Rajasthan condemns his statement and demands that he either withdraws his statement immediately or resigns from his post," it said.
Earlier, speaking at the workshop, the minister said that cancer was detected in 278 cancer patients in a screening of 4000 persons done by Early Detection Vans in the last two months in the state. He said camps are being organised up to the Panchayat level for early detection and treatment of cancer in the state.
"In the last two months, nine camps have been organised by these vans, out of which more than 278 cancer patients were found after screening 4000 people. They were advised to get admitted to hospitals for treatment," he said.
Meena said the vans are not only going from village to village to screen and treat people but are also making people aware of cancer. He said that early detection and early treatment of cancer is the only prevention.
He directed the officers to conduct effective screening of patients in Cancer Care Units located in all district hospitals.