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More than a quarter of Britons think cancer is a matter of fate

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by Cancer Research UK | News

3 January 2007

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More than a quarter of adults in the UK think getting cancer is all down to fate – according to a survey of more than 4000 people conducted by Cancer Research UK.

More women than men revealed they thought cancer was due to fate and people over 65 were the most likely to put the disease down to destiny.

The survey, asked a cross-section of the population whether they thought they could do anything to reduce their risk of cancer or whether getting the disease was just fate.

Overall 27 per cent of those asked said it was fate. Among those from the most deprived areas this figure rose to 43 per cent. And among those from the most privileged areas it fell to 14 per cent.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: “It is alarming that such a large percentage of the British population do not realise that half of all cases of cancer can be prevented by lifestyle changes. We can all reduce our risk of cancer by stopping smoking, keeping a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and taking plenty of exercise. Enjoying the sun safely and avoiding sunburn also helps to reduce cancer risk. Cancer Research UK’s Reduce the Risk campaign is actively encouraging people to learn how they can lead healthier lives and cut their risk of developing cancer. We can give people information about how to do this but it is seriously worrying that so many people think cancer is down to fate.”

The survey also found that smokers were 50 per cent more likely than non-smokers to believe that getting cancer was fate.


For media enquiries please contact Sally Staples in the press office on 020 7061 8300, or the out of hours duty press officer on 07050 264059.

Notes to Editor

More than half all cases of cancer can be prevented according to Cancer Research UK’s Reduce the Risk campaign

The campaign’s key messages are :

  • Stop smoking: It’s the best present you’ll ever give yourself
  • Stay in shape: Be active and keep a healthy body weight
  • Eat and drink healthily: Limit alcohol and choose a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Be SunSmart: Protect yourself in the sun and take care not to burn
  • Look after number one: Know your body and see your doctor about anything unusual. Go for screening when invited