“I think it’s really hard for the averagelayperson, reading about all the differentstudies out there and different medicaladvances, to really decipher what thatmeans and how one plays from the other,”says Kendra Desmarais, a program officerin AHS’ Health Marketing Unit.
One of the projects she worked on, StandUp For Your Life, revealed that, whilemany Albertans understand what theyneed to do to be generally healthy — eatingwell and exercising regularly — they don’tunderstand these lifestyle choices are alsoways to reduce their chances of gettingcancer. People were less motivated bydisease prevention than by more immediate and personal factors, such as lookingbetter, feeling better and setting a goodexample for their children, Desmarais says.Similarly, while there is a growing bodyof evidence that says diet and exercise canaffect risk of cancer as much as smoking,71 percent of respondents identified notsmoking as an important factor in cancerprevention, but only 23 percent identifieddiet as a factor and a mere 10 percent identified physical activity.
The same study also revealed just over
half of Albertans feel that sometimes, it
seems like everything causes cancer. It’s a
position that’s somewhat understandable
when someone like Tour de France cyclist
Lance Armstrong becomes stricken with
cancer, despite a superior level of physical
fitness. The problem in this case, says Dr.
Richard Musto, Medical Officer of Health
for AHS Calgary Zone, is a disconnect in
realizing that cancer is not one disease, and
that some types of cancer are not prevent-
able by exercise and healthy living. How-
ever, the truth is that not smoking, eating
well and exercising regularly will greatly
reduce a person’s chance of contracting
these types of chronic illnesses, and several
types of cancer, that are directly related to
Confusion and mixed messages aside,healthy choices are always the bestdefence. a
While Albertans may be united in
their concern about cancer, the
way they address that concern
is more varied.