Many Irish are mistaken about cancer, says expert
A MAJORITY of Irish people wrongly believe genetic factors rather than lifestyle factors are the main cause of cancer.
Dr Derek Power, a medical oncologist at Cork and Mercy University Hospitals, said he hoped that by sharing many common misunderstandings about cancer risk and informing the public about proven cancer risks and prevention measures, it will help people make lifestyle choices that will reduce their risk of developing the disease.
“Many myths surrounding cancer risk are also still popular. For example, many people wrongly think that a blow to the breast, stress, wearing tight underwear, the use of mobile phones, genetically modified foods and aerosols are major cancer risk factors,” he said.
Dr Power was speaking after presenting a paper at the 2012 Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Vienna which was based on a survey of some 748 people carried out by UCC BSC nutritional science undergraduates Lisa Burn and Ursula Kenny.
According to Dr Power, who was lead author of the paper, some 126 of those who responded to the survey were healthcare professionals.
He said 90 per cent of those surveyed, including healthcare professionals, believed genetics “strongly” increased risk and more than one in four believed that more than 50 per cent of cancers are genetic whereas only 5-8 per cent of cancers, depending on cancer site, are due to an inherited gene.