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These social dimensions of cancer have important implications for the design of cancer control programming. They stem from behavior patterns that people evolve to meet their biological, psychological and social needs. These patterns, in turn, create a lifestyle which influences cancer incidence. They include the development of addictions to tobacco, drugs and alcohol, the ways in which food is prepared, stored and eaten, and certain risk patterns of personal interaction as with sexual mores. With tobacco, for example, oral cancer predominates where tobacco is chewed, and lung cancer where it is smoked. The changed cancer patterns that accompany the migration of people provides an example of the influence of lifestyle on the occurrence of cancer. When Mexicans migrate to the United States they take on the cancer incidence patterns of their new country.
There is a very real possibility that lifestyle change can reduce cancer incidence. But such changes can be very difficult to make, as anyone who has tried to stop smoking can attest. There is now a major research emphasis on the application of behavioral science in health promotion and prevention programs to create lifestyle change at the population level.