Older people least aware of cancer risk

October 5, 2009

A World Cancer Research Fund survey of people aged 55 and over has found that this group are the least aware in Britain about how they can reduce their risk of cancer.

Nearly 2000 people responded and well over 50 percent of them had very low awareness that eating a poor diet, being overweight, not being active and drinking alcohol are cancer risk factors. This is despite convincing scientific evidence that these all increase risk of cancer.

Scientists estimate about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented through eating healthily, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight and it is therefore a real concern that so many older people are not aware of these factors.

Perhaps people in this age group think it is too late to start thinking about cancer prevention, but that is far from the truth. No matter how old you are, you can make lifestyle changes that can reduce your cancer risk.

But while awareness is lowest among older people, the survey also showed there have been big increases in awareness across the board since a similar survey was carried out in August 2007.

Two statistics that the older age group do seem to have taken on board are first that alcohol is a risk factor. Their awareness of this has increased from 35 to 53 per cent, which is certainly a major jump. Interestingly, the biggest difference in awareness between men and women was for alcohol with just 49 per cent of men aware it increases risk of cancer, compared to 56 per cent of women.

Second interesting statistic is that a massive 90 per cent of people are aware of the smoking link, whether they choose to act on it though seems to be another matter.

For more information on the report visit www.dietandcancerreport.org


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