New research sheds light on misconceptions of cancer causes

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3rd May 2018 14:45 - Health

New research sheds light on misconceptions of cancer causes: A study carried out by University College London (UCL) and the University of Leeds, highlights the many beliefs people have around what can cause cancer. 
 
The survey, part-funded by Cancer Research UK, questioned 1,330 people and found many of them believed in risk-factors for which there is no solid scientific evidence.
 
Forty-three per cent of respondents believed stress could make them more likely to get cancer, while slightly less (42%), thought consuming food with additives could increase their chances. 
 
Other ‘mythical’ factors according the Cancer Research UK were electromagnetic frequencies (35%), eating GM food (34%), microwave ovens (19%) and drinking from plastic bottles (15%).
 
The study also found ‘approximately half of known lifestyle-related risk factors were not recognised by the general public in England’.
 
Respondents did correctly identify some cancer risk factors including smoking (88%), passive smoking (80%) and sunburn (60%).
 
The findings were published in the European Journal of Cancer. 
 
Dr Samuel Smith from the University of Leeds said: “It’s worrying to see so many people endorse risk factors for which there is no convincing evidence.
 
“Compared to past research it appears the number of people believing in unproven causes of cancer has increased since the start of the century which could be a result of changes to how we access news and information through the internet and social media.
 
“It’s vital to improve public education about the causes of cancer if we want to help people make informed decisions about their lives and ensure they aren’t worrying unnecessarily.”
 
Clare Hyde from Cancer Research UK said: “Around four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes so it’s crucial we have the right information to help us separate the wheat from the chaff.


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