A new survey from Cancer Council NSW shows many people are confused about common risk factors for cancer – meaning more education and awareness is needed to help lower cancer rates in the future.
More than 3,000 people across New South Wales were surveyed by Council NSW, finding while many people could cite some risk factors, there was low awareness of the risks associated with diet and alcohol. The survey found:
88% of people knew smoking was a risk factor
74% knew sunburn was a risk factor
67% knew family history was a risk factor
That’s good news for cancer prevention as all three are significant risk factors.
However, respondents also thought:
Chemicals in foods were responsible for cancer (43%)
Pollution was responsible for cancer (32%) and
Stress was responsible for cancer (26%)
… despite there not being a strong evidence link for any of the above.
Significantly most people didn’t realise these lifestyle factors contributed to cancer:
Only 25% knew being overweight was linked to cancer
Only 22% realised drinking alcohol was linked to cancer
Just 15% realised a lack of exercise was linked to cancer
and only 15% realised eating processed meats was linked to cancer.
With more than half of the state’s adult population overweight or obese, more people need to understand the associated risk of developing cancer. The harms associated with alcohol and obesity need to taken as seriously as the risks of tobacco use and UV exposure, if we are to reduce cancer rates linked to these behaviours.
We know that approximately one third of cancers are preventable through an active and healthy lifestyle, which means everyone should work towards making simple changes to their diet and activity levels to help give them the best chance of avoiding cancer.