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Americans Misunderstand Cancer Risk Factors: New Study

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 9-Sep-2007

Americans harbor a number of inaccurate and unsubstantiated beliefs regarding cancer — particularly those Americans who are most at risk of developing the disease.  The finding is the result of a recent study by the American Cancer Society and published in the journal Cancer

The study centered on a telephone survey and the responses of random Americans with no prior diagnosis of cancer to 12 inaccurate or unlikely statements about cancer risks, some of which have recently been circulated as email hoaxes.  Two-thirds of the survey participants correctly identified 7 of the 12 statements as false, but more than 25% of those interviewed identified 5 of the 12 statements as true.  Among other survey findings were the following:

  • 67.7% believed the risk of cancer death in the U.S. is increasing.
  • 38.7% believed that living in a smoggy city put them at greater risk for lung cancer than smoking one pack of cigarettes per day.
  • 14.7% thought that shampoo, deodorant, and antiperspirants could cause cancer.
  • 6.2% thought underwire bras could cause breast cancer.

Overall, researchers report that respondents who were male, older, non-white, less educated and of lower income were most likely to hold inaccurate beliefs about cancer.

Previously on the D.C. Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:

  • Finding trustworthy medical information online
  • Tips for a successful mammography
  • A popular heart imaging scan found to carry a cancer risk
  • Young female smokers face a higher breast cancer risk
  • Summer skin cancer prevention guidelines

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