World Cancer Day 2015

Yesterday was  2015 World Cancer Day (don’t worry, I missed it too), a day which also saw the release of the Cancer Risk Awareness Survey published by the National Institute for Cancer Research. Although awareness of risk factors is improving, there’s still a long way to go. Unfortunately, it turns out Americans are worrying more about the wrong risk factors, such as those we can’t control or those that lack the conclusive evidence to link them with cancer, more than the factors that we are able to control.

So what are the controllable factors we should be aware of?

1. Obesity
2. Excessive alcohol use
3. Insufficient physical activity
4. Diets low in fruits and vegetables
5. Cured meats
6. Diets high in red meat

Of these 6 controllable factors, the one’s Americans are most aware of is obesity. But that’s not saying much considering only 52 percent of respondents were aware of this risk factor.  So what factors are Americans most aware of then? Here are the top 5:

1. Tobacco (94%)
2. Heredity or “cancer genes” (89%)
3. Radiation (88%)
4. Industrial pollution (86%)
5. Sun exposure (84%)

Now you might notice one of these seems like it might also be pretty controllable (spoiler alert: it’s sun exposure). Apparently, they didn’t want to focus on that factor this year, so the left it out of their 6-factor list. Weird. All suspicions aside, also outscoring the 6 manageable risk factors in terms of awareness were food additives, genetically modified foods, and hormones in beef. However, none of these factors have been actually linked to an increased risk for cancer!

So America (also world), I challenge you on this “belated” World Cancer Day to go educate yourself. Read the report, raise your own awareness, and maybe even make some lifestyle changes. Your body will surely thank you for it years on down the road!

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