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New Survey: Many Americans Unaware Activity, Weight Affects Cancer Risk

activity results pie

How active someone is affects
their risk of getting cancer.

Fewer than half of Americans are aware that body weight affects people’s risk of getting cancer and barely a third know that physical activity reduces the risk of cancer, according to a new AICR survey released yesterday.

The survey was released on World Cancer Day and in Cancer Prevention month, occasions that work at dispelling cancer myths and improving general knowledge. The online survey reveals that many Americans still remain unaware there research shows everyday healthy habits can reduce cancer risk.

The AICR Cancer Risk Awareness Survey asked respondents to agree or disagree to several statements about cancer risk. Findings include:

  1. People can’t do anything to change their risk of getting cancer.
    Over one in six Americans agreed with this cancer myth (17%) and another 24% could not decide whether to agree or disagree.
  2. Diet affects people’s risk of getting cancer.
    Just over half of Americans (58%) knew that they can indeed cut cancer risk with a healthy diet, but far too many either disagreed (11%) or could not make up their minds (31%).
  3. Body weight affects people’s risk of getting cancer.
    Awareness of this link is alarmingly low: less that half (41%) of those surveyed knew that body weight has an impact on cancer risk. One in 5 (20%) disagreed, while a whopping 38% could not make up their mind.
  4. How active someone is affects their risk of getting cancer.
    Of the three steps to lower cancer risk, awareness of physical activity’s protective power was lowest, with only 39% of Americans understanding its role. Almost 1 in 4 Americans (23%) disagreed, while another 39% neither agreed nor disagreed.
  5. Getting less processed meat (e.g. bacon and salami) reduces the risk of someone getting cancer. Processed meat is a cause of colorectal cancer, yet fewer than half (44%) of Americans are aware there is a link to processed meat and cancer.
  6. Whether or not someone gets cancer is mainly due to their genes or family history.
    Approximately one in five Americans (21%) know that genes and family history is not the main cause of developing cancer.

Source: YouGov online AICR survey of 1,233 US adults conducted between Dec 13-16, 2013.

Published on February 4, 2014

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