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M. D. Anderson-Prevention poll finds women can do more to prevent cancer...but aren't
Date:10/1/2007

being of lower social status in their communities were less likely to engage in behaviors that are known to decrease cancer risk. In fact, they were more likely to be smokers and less likely to have ever had a mammogram.

The poll found that women who smoke - a behavior that is extremely harmful in its own right - are also more likely to engage in a constellation of other unhealthy behaviors. Women smokers rated their health as significantly poorer than non-smoking respondents. Although they admitted they know their cancer risk is "moderate to very high," they are still less likely to eat right, exercise or to have had a mammogram.

"Our findings begin to break down complex psychological, social and behavioral components behind health decisions women make to avoid cancer. Interestingly, we see that women who feel like they have more control over cancer are more apt to engage in healthy behaviors, and as a result, do have more control. For women, one might say cancer prevention is a state of mind," according to the survey's lead author, Jennifer Irvin Vidrine, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Health Disparities Research at M. D. Anderson, and an expert on cancer health disparities.

A gap between knowing and doing in terms of recommended guidelines The majority of women say they eat a healthy diet (81 percent) and exercise regularly (73 percent), but:

  • only 31 percent consume the recommended daily fruit servings (2/day)

  • as few as 12 percent report getting enough vegetables (3/day)

  • only 32 percent actually get 150 minutes of exercise per week, the minimum recommended for cancer prevention

When it comes to cancer screenings, there's room to improve:

  • 67 percent of respondents age 40 and older have had a mammogram within the past 12 months

  • 77 percent have had a Pap test within the past three years

  • but only 57
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Contact: Robin Davidson
RJDavids@mdanderson.org
713-794-1731
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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