Heavy-drinking women top in cancer screening

Hundreds of Nakuru residents walk with banners and placards during the Nakuru Hospice cancer Awareness walk along Kenyatta Avenue in Nakuru town. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]
Women in Kenya who drink heavily are more likely to screen for cervical cancer than light drinkers or abstainers, a Ministry of Health report has said.

Women with risky lifestyles such as binge drinking, excess sugar intake and too little physical activity, the ministry said, had high rates of screening.

The ministry also said such women were likely to be self-employed, wealthy and educated.

These women were also likely to be living in urban areas and favour fat and sugar-rich diets.

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On the other hand, rural women, those of low education and the poorest were unlikely to be screened.

The report is one of 11 studies published last Wednesday in the international journal, BMC Public Health, through the Ministry of Health.

The studies tracked how Kenyans were responding to the various factors contributing to increasing lifestyle diseases such cancers, diabetes, respiratory and heart conditions.

They assessed alcohol, sugar, salt, fruits and vegetable consumption among Kenyans and their healthcare-seeking behaviour.

In general, the ministry reported dangerous alcohol, tobacco, salt and sugar consumption trends.

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It also recorded poor vegetable and fruit intake and low physical activity among majority of Kenyans.

This particular report, Predictors of Cervical Cancer Screening among Kenyan Women, told of low screening despite high awareness.

Of the 1,180 women in the study, only 194 had been screened for cervical cancer.

“Of those not screened, 986 were aware of cervical cancer screening,” said the study by the Division of Non-Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health.

The authors did not explain why bingeing women had high rates of cancer screening, but suggested they were better educated, wealthy and likely to seek healthcare services. 

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The study suggested that such women could also be aware of their risky lifestyles, hence their need for screening.

On the other hand, the study said younger women, aged 35-39 and not obese, were unlikely to have been screened for cervical cancer.

While cervical cancer screening was free in the public health sector, the report said on the ground the services were non-existent.

The ministry claimed to have a workable strategy to control or even reverse the threat of these diseases “but does not have the money”.

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Cervical cancerHeavy drinkersMinistry of Healthexcess sugar intakeCancer awarenessCancer screening