Cancer rate in Turkey’s Dilovası three times higher than world average: Report
The cancer rate in the industrial Dilovası district, located in the northwestern Turkish province of Kocaeli, is three times higher than the world average, daily Habertürk reported on April 10.
Data released by the Kocaeli Chamber of Environmental Engineers last week also revealed that a higher than average number of babies were born with asthma in Dilovası.
The rate of deaths caused by cancer in 2017 rose to 33.7 percent in the district, which has a population of 43,000. This figure stood at an average of 12.5 percent in the world and 12.9 percent in Turkey in 2017.
The striking difference in the figure for Dilovası stems from the environmental pollution persisting in the area for about 40 years, mainly due to intense industrialization and weak environmental controls.
“Unfortunately, heavy metals have a high density in Dilovası. This explains the high mortality rates from cancer,” said Kocaeli Chamber of Environmental Engineers head Sait Ağdacı.
The neighborhoods of Turgut Özal and Kayanpınar are the two places in the district worst affected by pollution, located next to organized industrial zones that cover an area of 2,200 hectares.
Turgat Özal neighborhood head (muhtar) Mehmet Şirin Barış, who himself has stomach cancer, told Habertürk that cancer has become so “normalized” in the area that cancer patients or patients with respiratory tract diseases “can be found in almost every home.”
A doctor at the Dilovası family practice center said they have been issuing many death certificates, particularly in recent years, resulting from stomach and lung cancer.
“A doctor treats at least 40 patients per day. Babies come into the world already suffering from asthma as they are exposed to heavy metals in the womb. The rate of asthma in children is so high that we often have patients having to use oxygen tanks. For workers we also have to issue medical reports for health and incapacity,” said the doctor, who did not want to give their name.
The Dilovası Municipality, meanwhile, reportedly offers locals free transportation services every day for many patients to Dilovası State Hospital, a private hospital in Istanbul, and the Süreyyapaşa Chest Diseases and Chest Surgery Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul.