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Education key to preventing some types of cancer

The European Journal of Cancer has published an article after 1,330 people in England were surveyed on what they believed to be some of the causes of cancer.

Researchers at University College London and the University of Leeds conducted the survey and discovered that whilst smoking was correctly identified as a cause of cancer, 40 per cent mistakenly thought that stress and food additives caused cancer. Nineteen per cent of people also believed that microwave ovens were to blame for the disease and 15% considered drinking from plastic bottles to be a factor.

The outcome of the survey ultimately found that people who are better informed about the causes of cancer make healthier lifestyle choices. This does not mean that believing some of the misconceptions of what causes cancer makes you more likely to take up or have risky lifestyle habits, but those who are better informed about the proven causes of cancer were more likely not to smoke and more likely to eat more fruit and vegetables, both of which have been shown to affect your chance of developing some cancers.

We are all too familiar with the increasing pressures on healthcare services and how this can lead to mistakes being made, including late diagnosis. Our GPs are responsible for referring patients for further investigations, and we are dependent on investigations being carried out within an appropriate timeframe and for any findings to be identified and treated accordingly. If this doesn’t happen then the patient is at risk of serious injury and death, needing more invasive treatment than would have been required with a prompt referral and a greater chance of their cancer spreading and returning. Clearly cancer services need to keep pace with rising demand so that patients can expect good and safe care and investment must be made to ensure this.

However, Cancer Research UK, who jointly funded the research, has said that approximately four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes. Smoking, being overweight and overexposure to UV radiation from the sun and sunbeds are the biggest preventable causes of cancer. For this reason it is also imperative that more investment is made into educating the public about the consequences unhealthy lifestyle choices can have. The misconceptions about cancer causes identified in this latest research highlight that there is a lot of confusion and putting this right could potentially save lives.

Clare Hyde, from Cancer Research UK has said that; "There is no guarantee against getting cancer - but by knowing the biggest risk factors we can stack the odds in our favour to help reduce our individual risk of the disease, rather than wasting time worrying about fake news."

It is therefore reassuring to know that some of our lifestyle choices can help to look after us in the long run and why it is vital that the public are also aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for with any cancer. As we come to the end of bowel cancer awareness month, Bowel Cancer UK, have created a list of symptoms to be aware of, some of which included; unexplained weight loss and extreme tiredness, which again can be warning signs for other forms of cancer.

If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a delay in diagnosis of cancer, please do not hesitate to speak to our team at JMW.


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