Survey Finds Many Americans Are Confused About Cancer Risks

cancer

Fewer than half of Americans are aware that some major lifestyle factors can affect their cancer risk, a new survey suggests.

Instead, many people worry about cancer-causing claims that aren’t back by scientific evidence — such as stress or hormones in foods, according to the survey done by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

“About half of cancer deaths in the U.S. could be prevented through lifestyle choices — like not smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight,” said Alice Bender, associate director of nutrition programs for the AICR.

But based on the new survey, many Americans don’t realize that.

The survey results were released Wednesday to coincide with World Cancer Day, and experts said they highlight a troubling lack of public awareness.

Among over 1,100 U.S. adults polled, only a minority were aware of key lifestyle risk factors for cancer — including obesity, physical inactivity and diets high in red meat or low in fruits and vegetables.

More Americans, it seems, are worried about purported risk factors that have little to no scientific evidence to back them up, according to the survey.

Between 54 percent and 62 percent of survey respondents believed that psychological stress, hormones in beef, genetically modified foods, and “food additives” raise people’s cancer risk.

Meanwhile, just over half believed artificial sweeteners cause cancer — which was up by 11 percentage points, versus the same AICR survey done in 2013.

Those beliefs likely reflect popular wisdom, according to Colleen Doyle, managing director of the Healthy Eating, Active Living Environments program for the American Cancer Society.

“There is no good evidence that artificial sweeteners raise cancer risk, but people have heard that they do,” Doyle said. “So they’ll avoid sweeteners, but not worry about the cheeseburger they’re eating — even though there’s convincing evidence linking red and processed meats to colon cancer.”

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SOURCE: WebMD News from HealthDay
Amy Norton