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Widespread ignorance of links between diet and cancer — World Cancer Research Fund

Many adults fail to understand the links between diet and cancer. According to the World Cancer Research Fund survey, only 58% of baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – know that what they eat and drink could lead to cancer. In contrast, only a third of 18- to 24-year-olds don't understand the connection between what they are putting in their mouths and their cancer risk.

The report says the World Cancer Research Fund survey asked more than 2,000 adults in the UK how much they knew about the links. The results left experts issuing a stark warning, that the lack of knowledge could indirectly link to their long-term health.

According to the results, 64% of 18- to 24-year-olds knew alcohol increases cancer risk, compared to only 59% of baby boomers. However, the over-55 group were more aware of the dangers of processed meats such as ham, bacon and sausages, with 62% aware of the associated cancer risk. The report says Generation Z – people born in the mid-1990s to early noughties – did not do well in this section of the survey with fewer than half (48%) knowing about the dangers of processed meat.

Head of research at the WCRF, Susannah Brown, said that the way people are being educated about food could be the reason for the generational gaps. "The different age groups seem to be aware of different risk factors and it could potentially suggest that the sources they are using get this type of information from could perhaps be influencing them," she said.

According to the report, Brown noted that it is possible younger generations are, in fact, forming opinions based on information from social media, instead of traditional news sources. In a shock result, nearly one in five (18%) Millennials didn't know that smoking was a huge risk of cancer, whereas only 9% of baby boomers were unaware.

A massive 80% of over-55s understood that cancer can be caused by your genetics, but a smaller 74% of 25 to 34-year-olds did.

The report says the survey also found that those who are wealthier appeared to have a better understanding of their health – with 69% of middle-class people understanding the links between poor diet and cancer, and only 52 per cent of working class.

Brown added: "We are aware that socioeconomic status does affect health outcomes, and perhaps it shows that it is from awareness right through to actually what the lifestyle patterns are that could perhaps be influencing that."

She also noted that it was encouraging that a poor diet was a "modifiable" risk for cancer, so if people become more aware of what they can do to improve their health, their risk may lower.

[link url="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12212921"]New Zealand Herald report[/link]
[link url="https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/resources-and-toolkit"]World Cancer Research Fund International report[/link]

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