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Public ignorant about key messages concerning diet and cancer
Date:9/27/2011

New research on public perceptions about cancer reveals that 50-year-old ideas still hold sway while many current lifestyle messages are not getting through.

On the positive side, however, the vast majority of people now believe cancer is curable.

Experts at the University of Leicester and Leicester's Hospitals carried out the research to assess patients' beliefs about the causes of cancer, which was funded by the Leicestershire-based charity Hope Against Cancer.

The study, published online in the journal Clinical Oncology, aimed to compare knowledge about the outcome of cancer treatment and beliefs about the causes of cancer among British South Asian cancer patients and beliefs held by British White cancer patients and the impact of these beliefs upon the patients' mental health.

Between September 2007 and January 2010, 279 patients, who were aware they had cancer, entered the study, funded by Leicestershire-based charity Hope Against Cancer, at the Leicestershire Cancer Centre. Researchers found that:

  • Across both groups there was an over emphasis on pollution, stress and injury as causes of cancer
  • Almost one quarter of the group believed cancer was caused by injury, reflecting research carried out over half a century ago
  • 20% believed that surgery could cause cancer to spread
  • Both cohorts believed religion/fate played a part in cancer
  • 30% of the group gave credence to alternative medicine being as effective as current clinical procedures
  • It was generally accepted that smoking can cause cancer
  • There was widespread lack of awareness about the roles diet, obesity and lack of exercise play in the development of the disease.

The vast majority believed cancer to be curable, with only 10.6% of the British South Asian group and 2.7% of the British White group thinking it was incurable. Out of the total sample, 93% understood the advantages of early screening
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Contact: Paul Symonds
paul.symonds@uhl-tr.nhs.uk
44-011-625-86294
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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