Doctor vents on China’s lung cancer spike with ‘smog poem’

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/2 20:03:39

New Year's in China was plagued by an old problem. As millions celebrated 2017, many northern areas were enveloped in thick smog that is expected to persist through the week.

But a chest surgeon in Shanghai caught attention on social media for trying to clear the air on a very toxic subject - with poetry.

Zhao Xiaogang, deputy chief of thoracic surgery at Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital of Tongji University, points out a link between smog and lung cancer in a poem "I Long to be King."

Originally published in English for the October 2016 of US medical journal CHEST, a translated version circulated online that struck a chord among many dealing with an immediate issue.

"While deaths from lung cancer is an increasing trend across the world, it is explosive in China," said Zhao. 

The poem reads from the perspective of ground glass opacity (GGO) - a non-specific finding on CT scans that indicates fluid in the lungs.

Though thick with medical jargon, the poem packs some powerful prose.

In particular, the line "I've been nourished on the delicious mist and haze," a reference to the connection between GGO and smog.

Even more powerful is the poem's challenge to previous statements from ranking experts that downplay the link between smog and cancer.

"The intense rise in lung cancer … is intimately related to smog," said Zhao.

According to statistics from 2012, 569,000 people in China die from lung cancer annually.

The poem was met with mixed reviews, with some expressing concern over the potential backlash for Zhao's poetic indictment against smog.

Zhao's comments parallel those of Chai Jing, the former CCTV reporter behind the 2015 independent documentary on smog Under the Dome.

Global Times



Posted in: SOCIETY

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