Cricketer launches Gastrointestinal and Liver Foundation for Research & Treatment of Cancers

Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar took time off to bat for healthcare on Tuesday and launched GIFT ( Gastrointestinal and Liver Foundation for Research & Treatment of Cancers), founded by a group of doctors from India and the USA.

Eminent gastroenterologist and Chairman of Asian Institute of Gastroenterology D. Nageshwar Reddy, Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Kansas School of Medicine, USA, Prateek Sharma, have started GIFT with the objective of reducing digestive cancers which have the highest incidence of mortality among all cancers worldwide.

Thanks doctors

Thanking Dr. Reddy and Dr. Sharma for their initiative, Mr. Sachin Tendulkar said the greatest gift a human being could get from doctors was life. “Big thank you for your contribution and generosity,” he said, adding hopefully there would be more smiling faces around.

Former test batsman V.V.S. Laxman, while lauding the gesture of Mr. Tendulkar in supporting the Foundation, called for creating awareness on the growing incidence of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers.

Doctors’ gesture

Dr. Reddy said the incidence of GI cancers was high in the country and 40 per cent of them could be prevented if proper screening was done.

He said a large number of Indian doctors from USA had donated $ one million towards initial funding for the Foundation. It would also apply for grants from Indian Council of Medical Research and Department of Biotechnology.

Dr. Sharma said around two lakh people die of GI cancers every year and major reason for that was lack of early diagnosis.

He said that more than 1.6 lakh cancers of GI and liver were occurring in India with over 1.38 lakh deaths each year.

Risk factors

Cancer of the oesophagus was the most common GI cancer in India. The risk factors include acid reflux disease (which occurs in one in 10 people in the country), smoking, alcohol and betel nuts chewing.

Gastric cancer (cancer of the stomach) was another common disease and major risk for it was stomach infection with bacteria called H pylori, present in 80 per cent of the population.

Dr. Sharma said liver cancer was increasing rapidly in India and risk factors included Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viral infections, which affected 2-4 per cent and one per cent of the country’s population respectively.

To educate law-makers

Besides working towards reducing digestive cancers, morbidity and mortality, the Foundation would educate law-makers and media on true burden of these cancers, train physicians, provide grants to researchers and create practice guidelines.

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