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Study finds media coverage of breast cancer focuses too little on prevention
Date:4/15/2008

ond ones control such as family history and age there are many steps people can take to reduce their risk of breast, or any other type of cancer, including diet, exercise and avoidance of certain substances in the environment that are known to contribute to breast cancer.

Environmental risks are broadly defined as contaminants in the air, ground or items we come in contact with; pharmaceuticals; and lifestyle practices.

The research also found that of the stories that focused on environmental risk factors for breast cancer, about 12 percent discussed the use of hormone replacement therapy. Recent research finds there may be a link between HRT and breast cancer.

Other risk factors covered in these stories included the use of certain pharmaceuticals, obesity, exposure to chemical contaminants and pesticides, diet, tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke.

The media, Atkin said, really underrepresent the risks involving lifestyle and the prevention activities people can make.

Also lacking were stories about the role parents can play in helping their children prevent breast cancer.

Advice to parents on how they should be raising their daughters in terms of diet and exercise was completely ignored, said Sandi Smith, study co-author who is with MSUs Health and Risk Communication Center. There were no stories at all.

Atkin said media awareness of promoting cancer-prevention techniques is crucial.

The media in general have a large influence on what women believe is risky and what they learn about how to prevent breast cancer, he said. Some ongoing studies are finding that the media, along with friends and family members, are more influential than even physicians.


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Contact: Tom Oswald
oswald@msu.edu
517-432-0920
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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