China admits existence of pollution-linked 'cancer villages'
BEIJING (AFP) - China's environment ministry has acknowledged the existence of "cancer villages", several years after widespread speculation first began that polluted areas were seeing a higher incidence of the disease.
The use of the term in an official report, thought to be unprecedented, comes as authorities face growing discontent over industrial waste, hazardous smog and other environmental and health consequences after years of rapid development.
"Poisonous and harmful chemical materials have brought about many water and atmosphere emergencies... certain places are even seeing 'cancer villages'," said a five-year plan that was highlighted this week.
The report did not elaborate on the phenomenon, which has no technical definition but gained prominence in domestic and foreign media after a Chinese journalist posted a map in 2009 pinpointing dozens of such "cancer villages".