Health, Inside and Out

May 16, 2011
Department of Social Work, Coimbatore

What we do and how we look on the outside reflects who we are on the inside. Wearing stylish clothing and glamorous jewelry is one way we express ourselves. As we stay up-to-date with the latest fashions, like the recent trendy designer watches with glow-in-the-dark features, we sometimes get more than we bargain for … like carcinogens.

These mesmerizing time pieces are definitely eye-catching, but it turns out they weren’t originally as fabulous as they appeared. Their luminescent glow came from paint rich in radium, which had the unfortunate side-effect of causing cancer.

cancer cells

Today, radium is no longer used on watch dials, but toxins, pathogens and chemicals found in household cleaners, personal care products and many other items of daily use continue to pose a grave risk of cancer to people. Genetics also play a role.

Cancer is aggressive; cancerous cells multiply quickly and spread throughout the body, destroying vital organs, in the process.

Cancer has long been recognized as a notifiable disease in many countries, where law requires disclosure to government authorities. Only recently, has cancer become a notifiable disease in some states of India. This change signifies the nation’s growing awareness for combating the disease and its unfortunate effects.

When every cancer case in India is compulsorily reported, the country will be able to know the true burden of the disease, including how many people are affected and the types of cancer that plague the population.

AudienceFor this to happen, social workers will play an important role, enrolling the inflicted in cancer registries.

Accordingly a program was organized by the Department of Social Work at Coimbatore for its students and faculty members, wherein Prof. Gangatharan, HOD, Cancer Registry at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, painted an elaborate picture of the need for cancer registry.

His session highlighted specific cancers prevalent in various geographical locations in India and those common among males and females.

“Prof. Gangatharan used pictures and photos to explain about the different cancers,” shared Madhusudanan S., first-year student of Master in Social Work. “He defined which cancers we need to watch out for, when interacting with members of a specific regional community.”

For example, gutkha-infested Gujarat had a high incidence of oral cancer, while gall bladder cancer was more common in North India.

Professor Gangatharan also urged students to promote the value of cancer registry, suggesting that students help uproot the stigma attached to saying “Yes, I’m afflicted with cancer.”

The session also highlighted the importance of a healthy lifestyle, health education and health promotion.


After lunch, a session was also conducted by statistician Dr. Sundaram, Head of Biostatistics Department at School of Medicine, Kochi. Drawing from more than four decades of experience, he discussed the correct usage of statistics tools and proper interpretation of statistics.

“The information given will definitely help students in their social work research and future community programs,” said Dr. J. Paranjothi Ramalingam, Professor and Head, Department of Social Work, Amrita University, Coimbatore.

The program also changed the future of attendees in another way. It may have reduced their potential for contracting cancer. Cultivating a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and reduced exposure to chemicals, really can maintain health and prolong life.

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