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No surprise: Americans confused about cancer

A study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reports widespread confusion in America about cancer and cancer prevention.

Nearly half of respondents (47.1%) agreed that “It seems like almost everything causes cancer,” 27.0% agreed that “There’s not much people can do to lower their chances of getting cancer,” and 71.5% agreed that “There are so many recommendations about preventing cancer, it’s hard to know which ones to follow.”

I’m a journalist so I always look in the mirror first and I blame journalists for creating much of this confusion. The “cure” or “killer” emphasis in many stories – in order to compete for space or airtime – shows no appreciation for public understanding. Fulltime health, medical and science reporting jobs are being slashed all over the country.

Just look at how some top news organizations recently handled cancer screening stories.

And then we have health insurance marketing people shoveling “consumer driven health care plans” at us. This study is further evidence of how far away many Americans are from understanding how to be in the driver’s seat of their own health care – admirable though that goal may be.

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