Background: Little is known about the news coverage of cancer risk factors in Korea. This study aimed to examine how the news media encompasses a wide array of content regarding cancer risk factors and related cancer sites, and investigate whether news coverage of cancer risk factors is congruent with the actual prevalence of the disease. Materials and Methods: A content analysis was conducted on 1,138 news stories covered during a 5-year period between 2008 and 2012. The news stories were selected from nationally representative media in Korea. Information was collected about cancer risk factors and cancer sites. Results: Of various cancer risk factors, occupational and environmental exposures appeared most frequently in the news. Breast cancer was mentioned the most in relation to cancer sites. Breast, cervical, prostate, and skin cancer were overrepresented in the media in comparison to incidence and mortality cases, whereas lung, thyroid, liver, and stomach cancer were underrepresented. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this research is the first investigation dealing with news coverage about cancer risk factors in Korea. The study findings show occupational and environmental exposures are emphasized more than personal lifestyle factors; further, more prevalent cancers in developed countries have greater media coverage, not reflecting the realities of the disease. The findings may help health journalists and other health storytellers to develop effective ways to communicate cancer risk factors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Cancer Research