Sunday, April 20, 2008

Preventing Cancer Is More Possible Than You Think

By Hillary M. Wright, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N., Harvard Health Publications
Harvard Health Publications//Harvard Medical School

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A recent survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) found nearly half of Americans think that preventing cancer is either impossible or highly unlikely. This is despite the belief that cancer is our number one health concern. The survey also found that Americans' awareness of several proven links between diet and cancer remains alarmingly low.

  • Only 49% were aware that diets low in fruits and vegetables increase cancer risk.
  • Only 46% cited obesity as a risk factor for cancer.
  • Only 37% knew of alcohol's link to cancer.
  • Only 36% were aware of the link between diets high in red meat — particularly processed meat — and cancer.

At the same time, Americans are increasingly likely to attribute cancer to factors that lack a proven link to the disease. For example:

  • 71% view pesticide residue on produce as a carcinogen.
  • 58% see food additives as causing cancer.