Women fear contracting Alzheimer's disease more than they do cancer, despite the latter causing ten times more deaths per year.
Research by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Prevention of 800 women between the ages of 18 and 93 also discovered that less than 33 per cent of respondents are putting in practice vetted ways to reduce the risk of cancer.
On top of this, 42 per cent of women in the study said they felt they had little or no sense of control over cancer.
Jennifer Irvin Vidrine, assistant professor at the Department of Health Disparities Research centre at M D Anderson, explained her take on the research.
She said: "Our findings begin to break down complex psychological, social and behavioural components behind health decisions women make to avoid cancer. Interestingly, we see that women who feel like they have more control over cancer are more apt to engage in healthy behaviours, and as a result, do have more control. For women, one might say cancer prevention is a state of mind."
Some 67 per cent of respondents aged 40 or over had undergone a mammogram within the last 12 months.
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