Canada heading towards cancer crisis

12 April 2005

Toronto -

Canada’s aging baby boomers and the country’s growing population are propelling Canada into a cancer crisis, according to Canadian Cancer Statistics 2005 released today by the Canadian Cancer Society.

“The number of new cancer cases in Canada is growing twice as fast as the population is growing,” says Heather Logan, Director, Cancer Control Policy, Canadian Cancer Society. “Cancer is already straining our healthcare system and it’s going to get worse as the number of new cancer cases increases as the baby boom generation ages.”

From 2000 to 2004, the population grew about one per cent annually while the number of cancer cases grew by about two per cent per year. Logan adds that if current trends continue with the growing and aging population, it is expected that 5.7 million Canadians will develop cancer and 2.7 million people will die of the disease over the next 30 years.

“This disease causes immeasurable suffering for Canadians,” says Dr. Barbara Whylie, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society. “In addition, the direct healthcare costs of cancer will have a severe impact on our economy. Canada urgently needs to implement the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. We need to take action to fight cancer in a coordinated way from coast to coast.”

Prevention is one important way to offset the trend of increasing cancer cases and Progress in Cancer Prevention: Modifiable Risk Factors is the special topic in this year’s report.

“There are many risk factors for cancer that we cannot change, such as age, sex and genetic inheritance,” says Logan. “But there are also important cancer risk factors that people can change. If we can help more people adopt healthier lifestyles, we’ll see fewer Canadians diagnosed with cancer in the future.”

Tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, excess body weight, alcohol consumption, overexposure to the sun and exposure to environmental and workplace carcinogens account for a substantial number of cancer diagnoses each year.

The prevention special topic shows that:

  • 60 per cent of Canadians do not eat the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables.
  • About half of Canadians (54 per cent of women and 44 per cent of men) are physically inactive.
  • Almost half of Canadians (56 per cent of men, 39 per cent of women) are at an unhealthy body weight.
  • Rates of physical inactivity are declining slowly but rates of excess body weight are increasing, especially in children.
  • 18 per cent of Canadians over 12 years of age are heavy drinkers.
  • In 2002, 21 per cent of Canadians over 12 years of age smoked and 18 per cent of youth aged 15-19.
  • Tobacco use is declining but is still high in some groups.

“A considerable body of evidence has accumulated over the last 30 years about how to prevent cancer,” says Logan. “We’ve made great inroads in cancer prevention through  tobacco control and if we apply these lessons to other areas even greater gains can be made. We have to work harder at both helping Canadians to embrace healthy lifestyles and helping governments to create policies that encourage people to make these changes.”

Logan adds that at least 50 per cent of cancers can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the public.

“The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control has an action plan for prevention that, if implemented, would bring about important reductions in cancer incidence,” says Whylie.

Whylie adds that over the next 30 years, if a Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control is implemented, there is the potential to prevent more than 1.2 million Canadians from developing cancer and it could save the lives of more than 420,000 Canadians.

The need for a Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control was identified in the late 1990s by four groups – the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies, Health Canada and the National Cancer Institute of Canada. The goals of the strategy are to reduce risk of developing cancer, reduce risk of dying of cancer, and to improve quality of life for those diagnosed with cancer.

Data for this year’s special topic – Progress in Cancer Prevention: Modifiable Risk Factors – were obtained primarily from the Progress Report on Cancer Control in Canada, published by the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2004.

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2005 is prepared, printed and distributed through a collaboration of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, Statistics Canada, provincial/territorial cancer registries, as well as university-based and provincial/territorial cancer agency-based cancer researchers.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and to enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

Satellite information for video B-roll (English only):

Date of feed: Tuesday, April 12 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.(EDT)

Coordinates: Anik F2 C

Band Analog,

Transponder 6B,

Audio subcarrier 6.2 and 6.8,

Downlink Frequency 3940 vertical

For technical information during the feed, call CFA at 416-504-5071, ext. 350

Broadcast information for radio audio clips package (English only):

Date of feed: Tuesday, April 12, 1:15 – 1:20 p.m. EDT and 1:45 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. EDT

Co-ordinates:   BN Channel 4

For technical information during the feed, call Broadcast News at 416-507-2181

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocate to governments for important social change.

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.

For more information, please contact:

Christine Harminc

Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: 416 934-5340