- Surprisingly, less than half of the American population is aware that lifestyle factors such as obesity, inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables, alcohol consumption, and the consumption of processed and red meat may increase the risk of cancer.
- Fewer than 40% of Americans are informed about the connection between alcohol and cancer risk, and only 40% are aware of the cancer risks linked to consuming processed meats.
- One in two Americans concedes that obesity can affect cancer risk, a slight increase from the awareness levels in 2001.
- It’s a widespread misconception that genetic factors overshadow everyday lifestyle choices in relation to cancer risk, whereas balanced diet, weight management, regular physical activity, non-smoking, and sun protection can potentially prevent one-third to half of commonplace cancers.
- Adopting a healthy lifestyle consisting of regular physical activity, ideal weight maintenance, and a plant-based diet has the potential to prevent hundreds of thousands of cancer cases every year.
Contrary to popular belief, cancer is not an insurmountable fate, yet, a significant number of people in the United States remain unaware of the lifestyle factors that can influence their risk of contracting the disease, according to the results of a recent study.
Surprisingly, only half of Americans recognize that obesity can escalate the risk of cancer. In addition, less than half of the population realizes that lifestyle habits such as alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, processed and red meat consumption, and inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables can contribute to cancer susceptibility.
The Gap in Cancer Prevention Awareness
“There’s an undoubtedly significant crisis in cancer prevention awareness,” emphasized Alice Bender, the director of nutrition programs at the American Institute for Cancer Research. She further highlighted that there is a greater proportion of people who mistakenly believe that stress, fatty diets, and other uncorroborated factors are associated with cancer.
“It is disconcerting to notice a lack of awareness that alcohol and processed meats could increase cancer risk,” Bender said. According to Bender, “it indicates that the proven factors bearing an impact on cancer risk are struggling to breakthrough the clutter of ambiguous and inconclusive research headlines.”
What the Survey Revealed
Several interesting facts were brought to the fore during the survey:
- Fewer than 40% of Americans are aware of the connection between alcohol and cancer risk.
- Only 40% are knowledgeable about the cancer risks associated with processed meats.
- One in two Americans acknowledge that being overweight can affect cancer risk, an increase from 35% in 2001.
Up to a third of commonplace cancers in the United States can be prevented through balanced diet, weight management, and regular physical activity. The rate of preventable cases could increase to half if we count in factors such as non-smoking and protection from sun damage, affirms the institute.
Scientific research has made a strong connection between the intake of alcohol and a minimum of six types of cancers, which include cancers of colon, breast, liver, and esophagus. Simultaneously, other studies suggest that bacon, hot dogs, and similar processed meats may enhance the risk of colon and stomach cancers.
Healthy Lifestyle as a Defence Against Diseases
It’s worth noting that just half of the American population is aware that obesity raises the risk for several types of cancers and maintaining a healthy weight is the second most essential aspect – after avoiding smoking – to lower cancer risk.
“It’s a common misperception that genes or uncontrollable factors outweigh everyday lifestyle choices when it comes to cancer risk,” stated Bender.
Emphasizing the importance of a wholesome lifestyle, Bender further explained that “According to our research, being physically active, maintaining an ideal weight, and adopting a plant-based diet has the potential to avert hundreds of thousands of cancer cases annually. And that is indeed a compelling and potent message.”
For Further Information
To gain more insights into cancer prevention, you can visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.