Investigating relationships between ethnicity, preventative behaviours, and perceptions of heart disease and breast cancer

  • Kimberley D Curtin Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta
  • Tanya R Berry Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta
  • Kerry S Courneya Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta
  • Colleen M Norris Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta
  • John C Spence Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta

Abstract

Women believe breast cancer is more severe and is less controllable than heart disease despite the higher mortality rate for the latter in Canada for women. Perceptions of heart disease and breast cancer tend to vary depending by ethnicity. These disease perceptions are extremely relevant for lifestyle change and preventative action. This study examined Canadian women with South Asian (n = 170), East or South East Asian (n = 188), British (n = 373), and Western European (n = 169) ancestry (Mage = 37.22, SD = 13.55). Perceptions of ability to reduce risk for breast cancer/heart disease, and control over getting the diseases were measured along with lifestyle behaviours (smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption, leisure time physical activity). In the heart disease models, fruit and vegetable consumption was related to perceptions of ability to reduce risk of heart disease for all ethnicity groups except East or South East Asians. Age and physical activity were related to perceptions of control and ability to reduce risk in women of British ancestry. In the breast cancer models, fruit and vegetable consumption was related to perceptions of ability to reduce risk and control for all the ethnicity groups except for Western Europeans for which only physical activity was related to perceptions of ability to reduce risk of breast cancer. Despite the importance of physical activity in disease prevention, it appears to be less important in perceptions of ability to reduce risk and control over getting the diseases, especially for those of Asian descent.

Acknowledgments: Canadian Institutes of Health Research