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There are a number of habits that put us at greater risk of cancer — and almost as many things we can do to decrease that risk.
But knowing what those habits are can be a bit more difficult, especially with new evidence coming in all the time clarifying what we know — and don’t know — about those risks.
To help get a sense of what the public knows, the American Institute for Cancer Research surveyed about 1,000 people about whether or not certain factors had an effect on whether a person develops cancer.
In a new report out Wednesday, the AICR detailed the cancer risks Americans are good at identifying, the ones they’re not so good at knowing, and the ones they tend to get wrong.
GMOs — no conclusive link to cancer
Genetically modified organisms have been controversial, but there haven’t been any conclusive links between GMOs and cancer, Alice Bender, the head of nutrition programs at the AICR, told Business Insider.
Even though that link has been inclonclusive, 54% of those surveyed believed eating GMOs had a significant impact on whether a person develops cancer.
Beef hormones — no conclusive link to cancer
The same holds true for hormones in beef, another case where there isn’t enough evidence to link them to an increased cancer risk.
Still, 52% of those that responded to the survey said they believed that hormones in beef have a significant impact on whether a person develops cancer.
Diets high in fat and sugar — no conclusive link to cancer
The links between diets high in fat or high in sugar are inconclusive so far, according to AICR. When it comes to sugar in particular, diets high in the substance have been linked to obesity, an established cancer risk. But on its own, the evidence isn’t quite there — especially when it comes to claims that sugar can lead to cancer spreading more quickly (sugar feeds all cells, not cancer cells disproportionately, according to the MDAnderson Cancer Center).
Though the link isn’t proven, 44% of those surveyed said they believed a diet high in fat had a significant impact on whether a person develops cancer, and 28% said the same about sugar.
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