HEALTH: Nation remains ignorant of cancer realities

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Bad hygiene, exercise, microwaves, physical injury and chewing gum were all named as possible causes of cancer, in a survey of 1,000 adults conducted by NOP for Macmillan Cancer Relief. There is no proven evidence linking any of them with the disease.

Fewer than half of those aged over 55 knew that smoking caused cancer and only one in eight realised that exposure to the sun was a cause of skin cancer, the charity said yesterday. Although nearly a quarter of the population admit to knowing at least 10 people who have suffered from some form of cancer, almost half think they are unlikely to develop the disease themselves. In fact, one in three will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.

A new booklet, The Cancer Guide, published tomorrow outlines the main causes, common treatments and helpful organisations. It forms part of a national awareness campaign which includes a two-part BBC1 documentary, The Big C, screened on 26 and 27 March.

The Cancer Guide is available from Macmillan Cancer Relief on 0171 887 8271.