Study: Germans fear cancer most

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Cancers continue to be the most feared - fear of mental illnesses is growing

In terms of their health, Germans fear cancer most by far. As in the previous year, in a representative survey carried out by the Forsa Institute on behalf of the German Employee Health Insurance Fund (DAK), most participants identified cancer as their greatest health concern.

Almost three quarters (73 percent) of the respondents said they fear cancer in terms of their health. The fear of possible tumor diseases is by far the greatest, but the respondents are also concerned about other ailments. For example, the fear of mental illness has increased significantly compared to the previous year, the DAK reports on the results of the Forsa survey. Also, more than half of the participants feared accidents with injuries (57 percent), strokes (54 percent) and diseases of Alzheimer's or dementia (54 percent). Overall, according to the results of the Forsa Institute, German citizens are afraid of numerous illnesses and health setbacks, although cancer remains by far the greatest threat.

Cancer can affect everyone and is often difficult. The Forsa Institute commissioned the DAK to question more than 3,000 men and women about their fears of diseases and health problems. Most participants identified the risk of cancer as their main concern. When explaining their fear of cancer, a large proportion of those questioned stated that the tumor diseases can affect everyone and are particularly often more severe than other diseases. However, the fear of tumor diseases is quite different in the different age groups. The DAK expert Dr. Christina Sewekow. "What is striking compared to the previous year is that the fear of cancer subsides in the 14 to 29 year olds, while at the same time they fear all other diseases more." The willingness of younger people to participate in cancer screening has also decreased significantly, which in the opinion of Dr. Sewekow, when confirming the trend, speaks in favor of "informing this age group more about risks and opportunities for early detection."

Regional differences in disease worries The Forsa survey on public health fears also shows that there are clear differences between the individual federal states. In general, the people in Hamburg were least afraid of diseases, while the respondents in Thuringia were most afraid of the various diseases and health impairments, explained the DAK expert. Overall, according to the current survey, around a third of German citizens rate his current state of health as "very good", with the values ​​in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg at around 40 percent being significantly higher than, for example, in Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania or Thuringia, where 22 percent each rated their health as “very good”. With age, the positive conviction of one's own constitution decreases noticeably, the DAK expert continues. According to this, more than half of the 14 to 29-year-olds rate their own state of health as “very good, whereas the proportion among those over the age of 60 is only 19 percent. The older respondents also stated particularly often that their state of health was "bad", which a total of 12 percent of the study participants claimed to be. In addition, women are generally significantly more concerned about their health than men, according to the Forsa survey.

Fear of mental illnesses growing As the DAK explains in its current press release, the increase in worries about mental illnesses in the Forsa survey is particularly noticeable. Compared to the previous year, 20 percent more of those surveyed stated that they were afraid of mental illnesses. Overall, 36 percent of the study participants expressed concern about depression, burn-out or other mental illnesses this year. Above all, respondents between the ages of 30 and 44 are particularly concerned here, which is reflected in the fact that more of them are afraid of depression than of a heart attack, according to the DAK. In addition to cancer, accidents with injuries, strokes, dementia and mental illnesses, the list of the most feared health impairments also includes heart attacks, which 45 percent of respondents fear, herniated discs (38 percent), severe lung disease (27 percent), diabetes ( 20 percent) and STD (19 percent).

Majority of respondents actively prevents illnesses According to the DAK, the majority of those questioned are actively trying to prevent possible health threats that they fear. According to their own assessment, the majority of the participants exercise regularly, drink little alcohol and pay attention to healthy eating. In addition, one in three stated in the survey that they used relaxation exercises. However, it should be mentioned that there can be clear differences between the subjective assessment and the objective assessment. Based on personal assessment, the under-30s live slightly less healthy overall and prevent potential health risks less than the older respondents, the DAK continues. Regarding cancer concerns, it was also striking that 73 percent of women, but only 47 percent of men, stated that they took part in cancer screening. The fear of cancer among men clearly has the result that they have their risk of illness checked professionally less than among women. (fp)

Also read:
Men too rarely in early cancer detection
Married people pay more attention to prevention

Image: Sigrid Rossmann /

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