The findings, derived from a survey of 1,330 people in England, also delved into the genuine causes of cancer that many people are oblivious to.
Fake news is driving millions to wrongly believe certain everyday items cause cancer, a new poll suggests. Around 40 per cent of adults believe stress and food additives can lead to cancer – despite there being no convincing evidence for either.
A third incorrectly fear that electromagnetic frequencies, such as Wi-Fi and X-rays, and eating GM food are other risk factors. While 19 per cent are convinced microwave ovens and 15 per cent believe drinking from plastic bottles can both cause cancer.
Around 40 per cent of adults believe stress and food additives can lead to cancer – despite there being no convincing evidence for either Researchers at University College London and Leeds University found 12 per cent of people are unaware smoking causes cancer.
Two fifths did not know that another risk factor is sunburn, which can triple the risk of skin cancer, scientists claim. However, belief in mythical causes of cancer did not mean a person was more likely to have risky lifestyle habits.
But those who had better knowledge of proven causes were more likely not to smoke, according to the researchers, who were funded by Cancer Research UK. Dr Samuel Smith, study co-author, from Leeds, said: ‘It’s worrying to see so many people endorse risk factors for which there is no convincing evidence.
‘Compared to past research, it appears the number of people believing in unproven causes of cancer has increased since the start of the century.’ This ‘could be a result of changes to how we access news and information through the internet and social media’, he added.