Kids Most Sugar and Spice and Puppy Dog Tails May Get Cancer

A shocking new study has found that boys who will be boys and girls who are made of sugar and spice are most likely to develop cancer. 

"Young people who conform most strongly to norms of masculinity and femininity—the most 'feminine' girls and the most 'masculine' boys—are significantly more likely than their peers to engage in behaviors that pose cancer risks," newswise.com reports.

“Our findings indicate that socially constructed ideas of masculinity and femininity heavily influence teens’ behaviors and put them at increased risk for cancer. Though there is nothing inherently masculine about chewing tobacco, or inherently feminine about using a tanning booth, these industries have convinced some teens that these behaviors are a way to express their masculinity or femininity,” the Web site quotes lead author Andrea Roberts, research associate in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH.

Tobacco use, indoor tanning, and physical inactivity—all risk factors for cancer—are highly prevalent among young people in America, according to newswise.com. "It’s known that risk behavior differs according to gender: Boys are more likely to chew tobacco and smoke cigars, while girls are more likely to use tanning beds and be physically inactive," the Web site notes.

Study results showed that boys who described themselves as very masculine, in terms of their self-image and play preferences in childhood, were almost 80% more likely to use chewing tobacco and 55% more likely to smoke cigars than boys who described themselves as the least masculine. The most feminine girls were 32% more likely to use tanning beds and 16% more likely to be physically inactive than the least feminine girls.
In contrast, though, the least masculine boys and least feminine girls were more likely to smoke cigarettes. The researchers speculate that these young people may be smoking in response to social stressors, perhaps due to social exclusion or harassment related to their gender nonconformity or perceived sexual orientation, newswise.com points out.
The study also found that activities such as reading magazines or watching television and movies played a role in promoting certain cancer risk behaviors. For instance, among girls, media engagement accounted for one-third to one-half of the higher likelihood of using tanning beds.
“Engaging in risk behaviors in adolescence likely increases the risk of engaging in similar behaviors in adulthood,” said senior author S. Bryn Austin, associate professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH at newswise.com. “So it is important to focus on prevention during the teen years, challenging notions such as ‘tanning makes one beautiful’ or ‘cigar smoking and chewing tobacco is rugged or manly.’”



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