Cancer Risk Factors in Korean News Media: a Content Analysis


Background: Little is known about the news coverage of cancer risk factors in Korea. This study aimed toexamine how the news media encompasses a wide array of content regarding cancer risk factors and relatedcancer sites, and investigate whether news coverage of cancer risk factors is congruent with the actual prevalenceof the disease. Materials and
Methods: A content analysis was conducted on 1,138 news stories covered duringa 5-year period between 2008 and 2012. The news stories were selected from nationally representative mediain Korea. Information was collected about cancer risk factors and cancer sites.
Results: Of various cancer riskfactors, occupational and environmental exposures appeared most frequently in the news. Breast cancer wasmentioned the most in relation to cancer sites. Breast, cervical, prostate, and skin cancer were overrepresentedin the media in comparison to incidence and mortality cases, whereas lung, thyroid, liver, and stomach cancerwere underrepresented.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this research is the first investigation dealing with newscoverage about cancer risk factors in Korea. The study findings show occupational and environmental exposuresare emphasized more than personal lifestyle factors; further, more prevalent cancers in developed countrieshave greater media coverage, not reflecting the realities of the disease. The findings may help health journalistsand other health storytellers to develop effective ways to communicate cancer risk factors.