Behind the Headlines - the Myth of So-Called 'Cancer Risks'
Feb 17 2017 Comments 0
There’s no shortage of speculation when it comes to cancer risks, with a new ‘threat’ seeming to pop up every week. But knowing what to believe and what to ignore is a whole different ball game.
So, to help develop an idea of what the public thinks they know, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) sourced insight from around 1000 citizens. The survey explored views on what variables influence the development of cancer, looking at everything from food intake to environmental factors.
The AICR report was later released to the public, and revealed the cancer risks that Americans understand, and the ones that they don’t.
So, what was on the list?
First up was GMOs, with 54% of respondents under the impression that consuming GMOs has a significant impact on the development of cancerous cells. This is despite the fact that medically, the link is inconclusive.
Beef hormones were another major concern, with 52% of survey respondents confirming that they’re linked to cancer. Again, the AICR maintains that there isn't enough evidence to confirm the risk.
Diets high in fat and sugar
According to AICR, the link between cancer and diets that are high in fat or sugar is also inconclusive. Yet while there is no solid evidence, 44% of Americans are concerned about fat, while 28% are worried about sugar.
The idea that stress can cause cancer is controversial, with some doctors maintaining that it’s a major factor and others ruling it out. Regardless, 56% of respondents believed that stress plays a role in the development of cancer.
On the other side of the spectrum, 10% of survey participants believe that coffee can help prevent cancer. Interestingly, the AICR has confirmed that coffee consumption could lower the risk of developing liver and endometrial cancers, in some cases.
There are clear and established links between obesity and cancer, yet just 50% of Americans believe that being overweight is a serious risk. According to the National Cancer Instititue, risks include pancreatic, esophageal, colorectal, breast and thyroid cancer.
Like obesity, inactivity also has clear links to certain kinds of cancer. Still, just 39% believe that lack of exercise has a genuine impact on whether a person develops cancer.
There’s solid evidence that a definite link between alcohol and cancer exists. But despite the growing concern, only 39% of surveyed respondents voiced concern.
Red meat or cured meat
Over the past few years the link between red meat and cancer has been gaining momentum. Even the World Health Organisation is on-board, and has supported links between processed meats and colorectal cancer. But, just 35% of Americans were concerned over red meat in general, and just 40% about processed meats.
The link between genetics and cancer is well-established, with certain genetic mutations playing an important role. Americans are well aware of the fact, with 87% of those surveyed believing that a predisposition to cancer can be inherited.
Despite the fact that the link between smoking and cancer is a no brainer, just 94% of respondents were on-board. Needless to say, the AICR is aiming for 100%.
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