Cancer: smokers and drinkers minimize risk

Cancer: smokers and drinkers minimize risk

In France, 380,000 new cases of cancer are reported each year. And the risks related to lifestyle are still underestimated. This is what emerges from the barometer published Monday, January 30 by the National Cancer Institute.

Two thirds of the French consider themselves well informed about cancer, but some preconceived ideas persist. Concerning tobacco in particular. It is the cause of 68 000 new cases of cancer each year. But half of the smokers underestimate the risks related to the cigarette, by thinking, for example, that there is no danger if one smokes only 10 cigarettes per day or less, or that the fact of making sport makes it possible to clean the lungs, which is false.

In reality, only the fact of stopping smoking allows to limit the risks of cancer, reminds Thierry Breton, the Director General of the National Cancer Institute. The same is true for alcohol: nearly one French person in four thinks that drinking a little wine reduces the risk of cancer rather than not drinking at all. However, the carcinogenic nature of alcohol is recognized, and has been for 35 years. And the guidelines are not to exceed two glasses per day, and not to drink alcohol every day.

In this survey, another worrying point concerns skin cancers, the French still underestimate the impact of excessive exposure to the sun or to artificial UV and the number of melanomas continues to increase in France.

The heredity of cancers
There are nevertheless prevention messages that are more effective in terms of diet, for example. It is estimated that 19 000 cancers are attributed each year to an unbalanced diet. But for the last five years, messages on the risks linked to the excessive consumption of red meat or cold cuts have been better accepted. Those on the protective effect of vegetables as well (even if in fact, only a quarter of adults consume five fruits and vegetables per day).

Finally, overall, the French overestimate the weight of heredity in the face of cancer, as if there were a kind of fatality in the face of the disease. However, only 10% of cancers have a genetic origin and almost half of cancers are preventable, because they are linked to lifestyle, hence the importance of all these prevention messages.