Most believe cancer myths

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 13, 2007

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A significant proportion of the population holds erroneous beliefs about what causes cancer, and this could be interfering with efforts to promote behavior change that can truly reduce the risk of this disease, according to a study in the Sept. 1 Cancer.

American Cancer Society researchers supported by funding from their own organization as well as the Discovery Health Channel and Prevention magazine surveyed 957 adults with no cancer history. Nearly 39% believed that living in a polluted city was a greater risk for lung cancer than smoking. About 15% stated that low-tar cigarettes were safer than regular ones, and approximately 16% felt that it was true that giving up tobacco did not reduce the chance of a carcinoma. Approximately 30% felt that cell phones caused cancer, and slightly more than 10% believed that mammograms did as well. Those who were male, older, black or Latino, low earners and poorly educated were more likely to hold these beliefs.

"Public education programs and interventions to address and convincingly refute commonly held misconceptions regarding cancer risk might increase the adoption of healthy attitudes, beliefs and, most important behaviors," the authors wrote.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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