Experts gather to discuss made-in-Canada policies for cancer prevention

Poll shows most Canadians don't know what can be done to prevent many cancers

On the eve of national cancer month, Canadian policy experts will attend a first-of-its-kind meeting to explore how the country can move forward with recent global recommendations relating to cancer and chronic disease prevention. The meeting, held jointly by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and Cancer Care Nova Scotia (CCNS), will take place on March 30th and 31st in Halifax.

Attendees will come from a wide range of organizations and perspectives reflecting the fact that preventing cancer and other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes requires the involvement of many different parties.

The meeting follows a ground-breaking report released last month by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, which found that between one quarter and one third of cancers worldwide can be prevented through actions such as diet, physical activity and weight management.1

“The findings of the global report are a timely and valuable starting point for the meeting as they focus on the need for a collaborative and inclusive approach to cancer prevention,” says Theresa Marie Underhill, Chief Operating Officer, Cancer Care Nova Scotia. “We are proud to welcome stakeholders from across the country to discuss made-in-Canada approaches to prevention policies. Given that many cancers share the same risk factors common to heart disease and diabetes it makes perfect sense to focus on these diseases together.”

Poll probes Canadians’ prevention awareness

While policies are needed to help Canadians make healthy choices, consumer polling indicates that most Canadians do not realize the important role that prevention can play2. Eighty per cent of the population is concerned about cancer, but Canadians are often at a loss when it comes to knowing how they can prevent it. The risk for many cancers can be reduced by taking the same preventive actions – such as a healthy diet, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight – that also curb the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

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Some of the poll highlights include:

  • When asked about actions that will reduce the risk of cancer, one in ten Canadians said eating healthier food and the same number cited eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eighty-three per cent of those polled see the link between being overweight and getting heart disease while 78% of respondents link being overweight with having diabetes. However, only 31% see the link between being overweight and developing cancer.
  • The role of physical activity in cancer prevention is also underestimated. Just one quarter (28%) of those polled see the link with developing cancer while 81% make the link with having heart disease.

Dr. Heather Bryant“Now is the time for policy-makers involved in prevention to seriously consider how they can reach millions of Canadians who are concerned about cancer,” says Dr. Heather Bryant, Vice President Cancer Control at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. “This meeting is an important step in connecting what science has shown about cancer prevention and translating this knowledge into awareness and actions that will reduce the risk for many cancers and other chronic diseases in Canada.”

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is an independent organization funded by the federal government to accelerate action on cancer control for all Canadians. We are bringing together cancer survivors, patients and families, cancer experts and government representatives to implement the first pan-Canadian cancer control strategy. Our vision is to be a driving force to achieve a focused approach that will help prevent cancer, enhance the quality of life of those affected by cancer, lessen the likelihood of dying from cancer, and increase the efficiency of cancer control in Canada.

Cancer Care Nova Scotia, a provincial program of the Department of Health, was created to facilitate quality cancer prevention and care for all Nova Scotians. Through Cancer Patient Navigation, health professional education, and standards and guideline development, Cancer Care Nova Scotia supports health professionals in providing patients with high quality care. Its work with other organizations supports the adoption of evidence-based practice and collaborative action to ensure quality cancer prevention and risk reduction activities. The organization focuses on creating environments and developing and sharing knowledge that supports people in making healthy choices that will reduce their cancer risk.

For more information, please contact

Polly Thompson
Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

Christine Smith
Cancer Care Nova Svotia
(902) 222-9739

Jilda Lazer/Noemie Wiggett
Environics Communications Inc.
(416) 969-2737/(416) 969-2661


1 World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention. Food, Nutrition, and Physical Activity: A Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2009.

2 Between August 7 and September 8, 2008, Environics Research Group conducted a national telephone survey of 3,307 residents of Canada, aged 18 and older. A sample of this size has a confidence level of +/- 1.7 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

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