While Albertans may be united in theirconcern about cancer and cancer prevention, the way they address that concernis much more varied. On one end of thespectrum are those who take an active rolein their own health, educating themselvesabout health matters and maintaining ahealthy lifestyle in the belief that their actions can have some impact on whether ornot they get cancer. At the other end of thespectrum are those with a more fatalisticoutlook, believing their actions have littleimpact on whether or not they get cancer,as if health was entirely predetermined orjust a matter of luck. This group makes uparound 15 percent of the respondents in the2010 survey conducted by AHS.
While confusion about how cancer happens and what can be done to reduce therisk may be most pronounced among thefatalistic 15 percent, it’s certainly not limited to this group. Most respondents fromthe 2010 survey (95 percent) agreed that“early detection is important for successfultreatment of chronic disease and cancer.”However, a solid 70 percent also agreedthere were so many tests and recommendations, they were confused as to exactlywhat they should be doing to reduce theirchances of getting the disease.
how Albertans see their health
Studies reveal that Albertans have a varied approach when it comes to their own health.
Respondents typically fell into two categories, which are best described as the working welland the fatalistic 15.
The working well refers to Albertans who generally take an active interest in their healthand health issues. They are vigilant, knowledgeable and conscientious about preventativebehaviours, including not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and going forregular checkups with a physician, even when they’re not feeling sick. Most likely to beamong the working well are university-educated females aged 50-plus.
Least likely to be among the worried well are young males reporting an education levelof high school or less. Most of these respondents appear at the other end of spectrum aspart of the fatalistic 15, a reference to the 15 percent of respondents who expressed a beliefthat getting cancer and other chronic diseases is simply bad luck, and that no amount ofpreventative measures will make a real difference.
A 2010 survey for Alberta health Services by environics research Grouprevealed a number of other perceptions about health and disease screening. for example:
• Just 28 percent of Albertans seek out screening tests for medical conditions, such ascancer and chronic disease.
• Just 24 percent of Albertans frequently discuss healthy living and disease preventionwith family or friends; 67 percent discuss it occasionally or rarely; and eight percentnever discuss healthy living or disease prevention.
The Alberta Cancer Board’s 2008 Cancer Prevention Knowledge, Attitudesand Behaviours Survey found:
• People living in rural Alberta, those with high-school and college educations and smokers themselves are most likely to see smoking as a minor health risk.
• one-quarter of Albertans feel that to some extent a cure to cancer is being hiddenfrom the public.
• More than 90 percent of Albertansagree it is becoming more importantto watch their health.
What Albertans see as the top 10 causes of cancer:
3. Environmental pollutants
4. Family history (heredity/genetics)
6. Too much sun/uV radiation
7. Lack of exercise