Awareness of cancer risk factors among ethnic minority groups in England

Public Health. 2012 Aug;126(8):702-9. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2012.05.005. Epub 2012 Jul 16.


Objective: To explore awareness of cancer risk factors in ethnic minority men and women living in England.

Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Methods: Men and women were recruited from the six largest ethnic minority groups in the UK proportional to the population distribution: Indian (n = 467); Pakistani (n = 333); Bangladeshi (n = 126); Caribbean (n = 252); African (n = 216); and Chinese (n = 106). Participants responded to an open-ended question about cancer risk factors. Analyses were adjusted for age, gender, socio-economic class and language.

Results: The most commonly cited cancer risk factors were smoking (55%), diet (20%), genetics (20%), drinking alcohol (19%) and lifestyle (17%). On average, participants who were able to name cancer risk factors (91% of respondents) cited 2.13 factors. There were some differences between broad ethnic groups (Asian, Black and Chinese), but fewer differences within them (e.g. between Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi, or African and Caribbean).

Conclusions: Awareness of risk factors (particularly diet and exercise) was lower in this sample than in previous population representative samples in the UK. Interventions aimed at raising awareness of cancer risk factors are likely to be beneficial across the whole ethnic minority population. Any ethnically targeted interventions should consider risk factor awareness levels as well as cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • England
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom