The only way to encourage people to protect themselves against the financial burden of getting cancer is to shock them, Virgin Money says.
The comment follows a survey of 4,000 people by Cancer Research UK, which found more than a quarter (27%) of UK adults think getting cancer is all down to fate.
Scott Mowbray, spokesperson for Virgin Money, says when the firm launched Virgin Cancer Cover last year it was criticised for drawing attention to the fact one in six people will get some form of cancer before the age of 70.
He states: “However, it’s clear there’s still a frightening number of people burying their heads in the sand not only about their chances of getting cancer in their lifetime but also the steps they can personally take to reduce their risk of getting the disease and protect themselves against the financial burden of getting cancer. More needs to be done to highlight the increased risks associated with certain lifestyle choices and perhaps the only way to do that is to shock people.”
The Cancer Research survey found that among people living in deprived areas the proportion who thought getting cancer was down to fate rose to 43%, while among those from the most privileged areas it fell to 14%.
In addition, more women than men said they thought cancer was due to fate and people over 65 were the most likely to put the disease down to destiny.
Smokers were 50% more likely than non-smokers to believe getting cancer was fate.
Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, says: “It is alarming that such a large percentage of the British population do not realise that half of all cases of cancer can be prevented by lifestyle changes.”
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