Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Take control or take risks - your call

Just how much control does one have over one's life?

Depending on their worldview, people tend to ascribe a greater or lesser role to predestination, circumstances outside their control, or simply, "fate". In a survey conducted by Cancer Research UK, 4000 people were asked if they thought they could cut their risk of developing cancer or whether it was out of their hands.

In total, 27% said it was "down to fate" whether they would be affected by the disease. In the most deprived areas, the percentage of those who believed they had no control over their cancer risk rose to 43%, and in most privileged areas it was as low as 14%. Make of this what you will. The poll also showed that 34% of smokers and 36% of over 65s shared this worldview.

Dr Lesley Walker, the director of cancer information at Cancer Research, was shocked by the results of the survey. Dr Walker says that half of all cancer cases can be prevented by lifestyle changes. Smoking and obesity can increase the risk of cancer.

I know people who disagree with this. They say that life's too short to deny oneself of pleasures such as smoking or overeating. I can see how someone can think like that. What I don't understand though is why many people treat some of their possessions, take cars for instance, with much better care than they do their bodies. After all, a car can be replaced if it is beyond repair; the same can't be said of the body.

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