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Cancer is our number one fear but most don’t understand how many cases can be prevented

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by Cancer Research UK | News

25 April 2007

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Cancer is our greatest fear, a Cancer Research UK survey reveals today. Over a quarter of Brits say cancer is the thing they most fear, topping the list over Alzheimer’s, heart attack and terrorism.

But the survey of 4,000 people also shows that the majority don’t realise approximately how many cases of cancer could be prevented by lifestyle factors. While two thirds of people underestimated the proportion of cancers that can be prevented, only 1 in 5 correctly said that half of all cancers could be prevented by lifestyle changes.

The news comes on the day that Cancer Research UK launches its Cancer Awareness Roadshows – two mobile information units which will be touring the UK over the next 12 months to raise awareness of how we can reduce the risk of cancer and spot the signs of it at an early stage. The Roadshows are fronted by pop icon Ronan Keating and are a partnership with the Marie Keating Foundation.

Ronan Keating said: “Because I lost my mother to breast cancer, I understand how frightening the disease can be. I’m really pleased to be backing these Roadshows because I believe that knowing more about how cancer can be prevented or picked up early will take away some of the fear and ultimately help to save lives.”

Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer information, Dr Lesley Walker said: “Even though survival for most types of cancer is better now than it ever has been, this survey highlights just how frightened we are of getting cancer.

Crucially the survey highlights a lack of awareness about how many cancers could be avoided. If people know what they can do to help prevent the disease, we hope that it will allay some fears.

“We’re asking people to step on board our Roadshows to find out what they can do to help lower their cancer risk.

“While on board, visitors can talk to a nurse in our private consultation room, pick up one of our health information leaflets, play our interactive quiz or put their lungs to the test with our smokelisers.”

The Roadshows, which will be making their first stops in Newcastle and Walsall today, will highlight five key lifestyle factors which are known to reduce the risk of cancer and increase the chances of spotting it early. These 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

To find out more about the Roadshows or how to reduce the risk of cancer, visit Reduce the Risk.


For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300.