Cancer Awareness Less in the Over-55 Age Group Than In Younger Adults

by Tanya Thomas on Sep 23 2009 8:47 AM

A UK survey has revealed that people who are above 55 years of age are less aware of how to reduce their risk of cancer than younger adults.

The YouGov survey of almost 2,000 people, commissioned by The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), found that people in that age group were less likely to know that poor diet, being overweight and drinking alcohol all increase cancer risk.

The researchers said that it was estimated that healthier lifestyles could prevent a third of common cancers.

Cancer Research UK said the survey results were worrying given the disease is primarily one of old age.

They found that 56 percent of the over-55s were aware a poor diet increases the risk of cancer, compared with 60 percent of younger adults.

Around 54 percent of the older age group knew that being overweight is another risk factor, as compared to 59 percent of the under-55s.

A lower proportion of the over-55s than younger adults pointed to being physically active and limiting alcohol intake as ways to reduce cancer risk.

But, the survey showed that overall awareness of cancer risks had increased in the past couple of years.

WCRF said that there was convincing scientific evidence that all the lifestyle factors featured in the survey were linked with the risk of cancer.

"The scientific evidence that we can reduce our cancer risk by making healthy lifestyle choices is overwhelming, so it is a real concern that so many older people are not aware of this," The BBC quoted Lisa Cooney, WCRF head of education, as saying.

"This is because if people do not know what increases and reduces risk then they are not in a position to make informed choices about their lifestyle.

"We need to get the message across that it is never too late to start thinking about cancer prevention," she added.

She also said that there was still a long way to go in raising public awareness of the health issues to the levels seen with smoking.