Patients 'unaware of what causes cancer'

28 September 2011

Many people are unaware of the contributions diet and obesity could have to cancer, a new study has shown.

Researchers at the University of Leicester and the city's hospitals carried out a poll to determine the public perception of cancer causes and found that patients were unaware of the damage poor diet and obesity could have on their health.

The study, published online in the journal Clinical Oncology, aimed to find out what people thought were the outcomes of cancer treatments and also what they believed causes the disease.

Comparisons were made between British south Asian cancer patients and white British sufferers to see whether beliefs differed and to determine if this had an effect on mental health.

Results of the study, which took place between 2007 and 2010, showed that a quarter of the group of 279 patients believed cancer was caused by injury, 20 per cent thought surgery could lead to the cancer spreading and a clear emphasis was placed on stress and pollution as a cancer-causing factor.

There was widespread lack of awareness about the roles diet, obesity and lack of exercise play in the development of the disease.

Smoking is the biggest cause of cancer in the world, according to Cancer Research UK, making up one in four deaths from the disease in the UK.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Symonds, P. et al., "Measuring Trust in Healthcare Professionals-A Study of Ethnically Diverse UK Cancer Patients", Clinical Oncology, July 11th 2011.

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