What causes cancer? Reports from sixth-grade girls

J Cancer Educ. Fall 2006;21(3):142-6. doi: 10.1207/s15430154jce2103_11.


Background: We evaluated students' perception of cancer causation among sixth-grade girls living in Wisconsin.

Method: We asked female students to list up to 3 causes of cancer in a cross-sectional health survey.

Results: A total of 141 answers were given by 53 students. The most frequently listed causes of cancer were cigarette smoking (91%), drugs (32%), an unhealthy diet (25%), and heredity (25%). Less than 10% of students listed other potentially modifiable risk factors such as exercise, sun exposure, or alcohol consumption.

Conclusion: Students in this study appeared to link a range of high-risk behaviors with health consequences, although the specific health risks may not be understood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Awareness
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wisconsin