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"Thinking back on my own pre-college education, I do not recall learning in-depth about cancer in school," Vanderford said. "From that perspective, the lower levels of cancer knowledge these students displayed at baseline are not too surprising. At the same time, given the increased information age we live in, there was some thought that perhaps students' baseline levels would be higher."
Kentucky is home to the highest overall rates of cancer incidence and death in the country. In the Appalachian region of the state, this problem is even more pronounced. Among many other factors, the lack of health literacy plays a part in the state's poor health. Research shows that people with inadequate health literacy are less likely to participate in preventive measures (such as cancer screenings, one of the best ways to reduce cancer rates) and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Based on their study, Vanderford notes that implementing cancer education into the existing curriculum for middle and high school students could pay off in the long run by encouraging change in many behaviors that lead to higher cancer rates.
Youth represent a vulnerable population that is at risk for beginning behaviors - like smoking - that increase cancer risk. At the same time, this is a malleable group that may be more positively influenced by cancer prevention and control strategies. Our results highlight opportunities we have to provide cancer education material to students in a way that will greatly affect their cancer knowledge, which could result in lowering cancer risks through increased cancer prevention/control behaviors." Nathan Vanderford, assistant director for research at University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center Source:
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