Majority believe pollution, pesticides cause cancer

August 21st, 2008 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 21 (IANS) A majority of people believe that pollution, pesticides and stress are the major causes of cancer, according to a new survey. Chief executive Cancer Council SA Brenda Wilson said that cancer is the disease most feared by people, yet surprising numbers worry more about risk factors that have little or no effect, than about factors that are major causes of cancer.

“The link between cancer and environmental factors such as pollution and pesticides is not strong, with scientists believing these factors contribute to only about two percent of cancers diagnosed.

“More than half of those surveyed are also concerned about the link between stress and cancer but there is no conclusive evidence linking cancer and stress,” she said.

The biggest cause of cancer in Australia is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, with almost 26,000 South Australians diagnosed with skin cancer, including melanoma, each year.

“What is surprising is that only a quarter of people surveyed highlighted UV radiation as a cause of cancer. Many are more inclined to believe myths than reality when it comes to what causes cancer,” said Wilson.

While the link between mobile phone use and cancer is not proven, the survey found concerns about the health impact of mobile phones.

While the report highlighted many fear factors where there is no or little evidence of cancer risk, it also showed that people are not aware of factors that are strongly linked to cancer, such as diet and physical activity.

There is evidence showing that obesity can be attributed to 39 percent of cancers of the uterus, 37 percent of cancers of the oesophagus, 25 percent of kidney cancers, 11 percent of colorectal cancers and nine percent of post-menopausal breast cancers.

“There are many causes of cancer that we do know about, such as tobacco use, sun exposure, genetic risk factors and diet and lifestyle,” Wilson said.

The survey was based on personal interviews with 3,000 people.

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