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Awareness of risk factors for cancer: a comparative study of Sweden and Denmark

Sweden and Denmark are neighbouring countries with similarities in culture, healthcare, and economics, yet notable differences in cancer statistics. A crucial component of primary prevention is high awareness of risk factors in the general public. The study aimed to determine and compare awareness of risk factors for cancer between a Danish and a Swedish population sample, and to examine whether there are differences in awareness across age groups.

Over 90 % of respondents in both countries recognized smoking, use of sunbeds and ionizing radiation as risk factors for cancer. Lowest awareness (<50 %) was found for HPV-infection, low fruit and vegetable intake and alcohol intake.

A decline in awareness was generally seen with increasing age in both countries, but deviating patterns were seen for alcohol intake, red/processed meat, obesity and age 70+.

This study supports findings from other European studies that generally demonstrate modest public awareness of many established cancer risk factors. Efforts should be made to improve awareness of the cancer risk factors HPV-infection, low fruit and vegetable intake and alcohol intake, which showed particularly low awareness in both countries.

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