China Admits Presence of ‘Cancer Villages’

March 20, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. risk 
[risk] (n.) – a threat or a chance that something may happen
Example: People who live in dirty places have a high risk of getting sick.

2. (to) catch one’s eye [too-kach-wuhns-ahy] (idiom) – to get someone’s interest or attention Example: The unclean residence caught the health inspector’s eyes.

3. toxic [TOK-sik] (adj.) – poisonous or harmful to one’s health
ExampleToxic chemicals make water dangerous for people.

4. estimate [ES-tuh-meyt] (v.) – to guess the amount of something
Example:  Researchers estimated the amount of needed data based on previous studies.

5. mortality [mawr-TAL-i-tee] (n.) – number of deaths in a specific population
Example:  Pollution caused high mortality in the country. 

Read the text below.

The Chinese environment ministry has finally recognized that ‘cancer villages’ exist in the country. ‘Cancer villages’ refer to polluted areas with high number of cancer cases or with a high risk of getting the disease.

Reports regarding ‘cancer villages’ started in 1998, but the term caught the public’s eye only when a Chinese writer presented a map of ‘cancer villages’ three years ago. However, ‘cancer villages’ still has no scientific meaning to date.

Media and authorities have revealed that 241 ‘cancer villages’ exist in China, but figures from other unofficial sources estimated about 459 villages, said US-based researcher Lee Liu. These villages are near rivers, where industrial facilities are also located.

The ministry also admitted the country’s use of toxic industrial chemicals banned in developed nations resulted to water and air pollution.

Wang Canfa, an environmental lawyer in Beijing, said that the government also confessed that pollution has caused most of the cancer cases in China. Liu also added that dirty water is the biggest reason why people got cancer.

For the past thirty years, the cases of cancer deaths in China have increased by 80%, making cancer the country’s number one cause of mortality in China. In fact, around 2.7 million Chinese die from the disease annually.

Pollution in China produced thick smog in January this year, which lasted for several days. This smog caused many people to be hospitalized and some flights to be cancelled.

Because of this worsening situation, people have started to complain and ask for immediate measures to lessen pollution. Protests and criticisms against China’s industrial pollution have forced officials to agree on closing down some industrial plants.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How can we solve the problem of pollution?
·         Should the government prioritize pollution among the country's other problems? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How do you think the kind of environment we live in affects our health?
·         What do you think is an ideal environment to live in? Please explain your answer.


March 20, 2013