BETHESDA -- Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop urged scientists yesterday to help the public separate real cancer risks from those that were blown out of proportion.
People should concentrate on changes in lifestyle and diet to reduce their risk of getting cancer, Dr. Koop said at a meeting of international cancer experts here.
"There is a frightening assortment of myths and rumors circulating about cancer risk and prevention," said Dr. Koop, chairman of the conference, which ends today.
Dr. Koop said one example of excessive fear about cancer would be a mother's concern about letting her children play in the vicinity of an electric transformer.
There are real cancer risks that too few families teach their children to avoid, chief among them smoking and sexual behavior, Dr. Koop reported.
He urged people to stop smoking, avoid alcohol and drug abuse, eat properly, exercise and practice responsible sexual behavior.
The sponsor of the meeting, which was the International Council for Coordinating Cancer Research, announced that it was turning all its efforts in international cancer research projects to prevention of the disease.