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Tags: cancer | myth | misconception

Study: Myths Hinder Cancer Prevention

Tuesday, 02 October 2012 01:09 PM EDT

Myths and misconceptions about cancer risks may be hampering prevention efforts, new research shows.
A series of studies presented this week at a meeting of the Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Vienna found many people mistakenly believe insignificant lifestyle factors may cause cancer, yet don’t recognize the real causes of the disease.
"These studies highlight the fact that a large proportion of the … population does not particularly like the idea of 'self-responsibility' for personal cancer prevention – that is, changing their habits and lifestyle accordingly. Rather, they blame genetics and society for getting cancer," said Hans-Jörg Senn, chairman of the society’s Cancer Prevention Faculty.
SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.
"Increasing awareness of the importance of primary cancer prevention is an enormous health-political issue for the future," Senn added. "If we do not become more successful in truly and significantly lowering the incidence of major cancer types, such as gastrointestinal and breast cancer in our ageing society, we will wind up with drastically increasing financial burdens for ever-more active treatment and care, besides the projected losses in working capacity and the accompanying burdens of human suffering."
One of the studies – presented by Dr. Derek Power, a medical oncologist at Mercy and Cork University Hospitals, Ireland – found many people overestimate the cancer risk attributable to genetics, but underestimate the cancer risks associated with obesity, alcohol, and sunlight exposure.
"Many myths surrounding cancer risk are also still popular," said Power. "For example, many people wrongly think that a blow to the breast, stress, wearing tight underwear, the use of mobile phones, genetically modified foods, and aerosols are major cancer risk factors."
Power and colleagues based their findings on a 48-question survey to assess knowledge about cancer risks involving 748 people, including 126 healthcare professionals.
SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.
"Overall, 90 percent [of] people, including healthcare professionals, believed genetics 'strongly' increases risk," Power said. "More than one in four of the public believed that more than 50 percent of cancers are genetic. Incredibly 15 percent of people we surveyed believed lifetime risk of cancer is non-modifiable."
These misunderstandings must be tackled if cancer rates are to be reduced, he said, noting diet and lifestyle including smoking account for 90-95 percent of cancers, and only 5-8 percent are tied to an inherited gene.

© HealthDay

Myths and misconceptions about cancer risks may be hampering prevention efforts.
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 01:09 PM
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