Geneva (Agencies): The risk of a cancer epidemic is looming large India as its population experiences rising incomes and changing food habits, the WHO warned on Friday.

"Physical inactivity is very high in India," Dr Timorthy Armstrong, a WHO official on chronic diseases said. "There is real opportunity for community interventions in spreading the importance of physical activities in India."

"The public is willing to engage in physical activity and governments must develop policies that can protect people's health and prevent diseases like cardiovascular
disease, diabetes and cancer," he said.

Having become the so-called global IT services hub,India's rising middle class has become physically more inactive due to sedentary working habits despite increasing consumption of high-calorie fast foods.

India is now on the cusp of becoming the country with highest cardio-vascular diseases, including cancers.

Though India currently suffers more from cancers caused by tobacco-chewing as well as cervical cancer in women, it would soon face the threat of other stomach and other related cancers due to increasing physical inactivity among its people.

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, diabetes, hypertension, colon cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and depression.
Indian women face growing incidence of cervical cancer which is caused by human pailloma virus that is sexually transmitted. The government must provide early vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, said the WHO official.

"Some states like Kerala have done well in providing early cancer prevention vaccines and other states must emulate this," he said.

Around 3.2 million deaths per year, including 2.6 million in low and middle income countries, are due to physical inactivity, which is one of the causes for breast and colon cancer. It also contributes to 27 per cent of the diabetes and 30 per cent of ischaemic heart disease.

"Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for all global deaths, with 31 per cent of the world's population not physically active," said Dr Ala Alwan, WHO's Assistant Director General for Noncommunicable Diseases and
Mental Health.
   
Ahead of the World Cancer Day this year, World Health Organisation (WHO) today issued The Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health.

These recommendations call for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week for all people aged 18 and over to prevent noncommunicable diseases, including breast and colon cancers.