The opinion poll led by Jennifer Irvin Vidrine, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Health Disparities Research at M. D. Anderson, and an expert on cancer health disparities, surveyed 800 women in the age group of 18 to 93.
From the poll, it was found that less than one third of respondents were doing everything what science showed effective for preventing cancer, including daily-recommended guidelines for healthy eating and exercise.
More alarmingly, about 42 percent of women who responded said they felt little or no sense of control over cancer and were not doing much to prevent the disease, when in fact, 63 percent of cancers are caused by changeable behaviours: smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity and obesity.
According to the poll, women who rated themselves higher on the social status ladder, regardless of wealth and who reported a stronger support network were more likely to take an activist approach to personal health and feel empowered in their ability to lower their cancer risk.
In contrast, women who viewed themselves as belonging to the lower social status in their communities were less likely to engage in behaviours that are known to decrease cancer risk. Also, it was found that women who smoke were likely to engage in a constellation of other unhealthy behaviours.
They admitted that they know their cancer risk is "moderate to very high," they are still less likely to eat right, exercise or to have had a mammogram.
"Our findings begin to break down complex psychological, social and behavioural components behind health decisions women make to avoid cancer. Interestingly, we see that women who feel like they have more control over cancer are more apt to engage in healthy behaviours, and as a result, do have more control. For women, one might say cancer prevention is a state of mind," Vidrine said.
Surprisingly women are more afraid of getting Alzheimer's disease than cancer, even though cancer causes more deaths as compared to Alzheimer.
The survey will be issued in "Winning the War on Cancer".