Study on students' awareness concerning environmental and occupational hazardous agents of cancer risk and prevention methods
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Zakład Biologii Radiacyjnej i środowiskowej, Instytut Fizyki Jądrowej PAN, Kraków. Kierownik Zakładu: Prof. dr hab. A. Cebulska-Wasilewska
Katedra Epidemiologii i Medycyny Zapobiegawczej UJ CM, Kraków. Kierownik Katedry: Prof. dr hab. B. Tobiasz-Adamczyk
Instytut Socjologii UJ, Kraków. Kierownik Instytutu: Prof. dr hab. M. Kucia
Corresponding author
Antonina Cebulska-Wasilewska   

Antonina Cebulska-Wasilewska Zakład Biologii Radiacyjnej i Środowiskowej, Instytut Fizyki Jądrowej PAN ul. Radzikowskiego 152, 31-342 Kraków
Med Srod. 2010;13(3):50-61
The aim of our study was to assess the level of awareness and knowledge on environmental and occupational risk of cancer and its prevention among Polish students. We were interested also in their sources of knowledge.

Material and Methods:
Survey, using the questionnaire, was conducted among 1080 respondents, who are or probably will be in their future work, exposed to harmful agents, due to study profile.

Students rated their knowledge on environmental and occupational cancer agents and cancer prevention mostly as limited (over 77%). Participation in “Safety Work and Environment” courses did not differentiate their level of cancer risk awareness. 901 students (84%) responded to question about specific substances, which may cause cancer. Almost 2% of students indicated none from 10 given agents as carcinogenic. About 34% of respondents pointed all given agents, 39% pointed on 8–9 of them, 5–7 agents 13.2% of surveyed and 9% of them indicated on 1–4 agents. Students were aware of carcinogenic features of radiation, asbestos, cigarettes smoking (93.2–93.8%), benzene, benzo[?]pirene and pesticides (79,2 –83,6%). Less of them declared carcinogenic features of PAHs (75.4%), heavy metals (73.9%), electromagnetic field (64.8%) and infections (60.8%). Only 48% of respondents specified possible lowering of the cancer by risk intervention practices. Medical and engineering profile, as well as attendance in courses covering the issues of health safety at work or environment (SWE) significantly decreased percentage of respondents who didn’t specified any procedure (but it was still high: 48–62%).

Our results demonstrate that most students, only to some extent, are aware of the most well known cancer-causing substances occurrence. Their knowledge is mostly limited and they do not know prevention procedures and ways to lower or eliminate the risk. Therefore the modernization of educational programs and development of more efficient communication strategies in that issues are emerging.

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