Busy lives and bad diets are causing cancer

By staff Reporter, with additional reporting by John Kang

Hong Kong can be hectic, but research suggests that burning the candle at both ends is to blame for the increase in cancer deaths

By staff Reporter, with additional reporting by John Kang |

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Being physically and mentally exhausted is never a healthy way to live.

Unhealthy diets, stressful lifestyles and neglecting regular check-ups are to blame for an 18 per cent increase in cancer deaths in Hong Kong since 2005, according to research.

In 2003, 11,510 people died from cancer, and that rose to 13,589 in 2013, according to data from the Department of Health and Hospital Authority.

The findings worry students like 16-year-old Minnie Yip, from Diocesan Girls' School.

"I'm stressed and don't get enough sleep because of school work, and I know that it could hurt me in future with diseases like cancer, but I'm just trying to survive one day at a time," Minnie said. "I'm starting the DSEs next year, so I don't have time to worry past that."

School work was also the cause of stress and lack of sleep for 18-year-old Patricia Abundo, who studied at YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College.

"I was incapable of going to bed early because of the excessive amount of school-related tasks I had to finish. This stressed me out to such an extent that it kept me up at night," said the teenager, who is now a university student in New Zealand.

Despite getting to bed late because of school work, Joy Pamnani, 16, a student from PLK Ngan Po Ling College, doesn't feel unhealthy. "I do go to bed pretty late because of the workload, but I don't feel unhealthy because I'm a vegetarian so I eat well."

Some students are already feeling the effects of a lack of sleep. "I go to bed late, around 1am every day, and I always check my smartphone in bed," says 19-year-old University of Hong Kong student Kate Ng. "I wake up with painful muscles and dry eyes."

A possible solution? "Give up using smartphones," says Ng. "I would be happier with a Nokia phone."