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Focus On: Cancer Prevention

Cancer Can Be Prevented

The Canadian Cancer society states that at least 50% of all cancers can be prevented through healthy living. Follow the guidelines below to reduce your risk of developing cancer:

  • Be a non-smoker and avoid second hand smoke. Smoking causes approximately 30% of all fatal cancers in Canada.
  • Make wise food choices. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and choose lower fat, higher fibre foods. Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Be physically active on most days. This will help to maintain a healthy body weight which can prevent 30-35% of cancers.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen daily and reduce midday exposure.
  • Follow cancer screening guidelines.
  • Report any changes in your body to your doctor or dentist as soon as possible. It is important for you to know your body and what's normal for you.
  • Learn more about occupational exposure and cancer risks.

Shiftwork and Cancer

Shiftwork can also make it more difficult to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Shiftwork can lead to poor eating habits, reduced physical activity, smoking, and high levels of stress, behaviours which can increase your risk of developing cancer.

One study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found the risk of breast cancer to be 60% higher in women who work the night shift. This may be due to inhibited production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is produced primarily during night time sleep and is thought to have anti-cancer properties. (Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers)


The Cost of Cancer

Having employees with cancer can impact your organization's bottom line. The 2005-2008 Charity Intelligence Canada report titled Cancer in Canada (PDF 7.17 mb, 60 pages) estimates that:

  • Canada spent $20.5 billion dollars on direct and indirect costs of cancer in 2009.
  • Cancer drug costs were estimated to be at more than $430 million in Ontario in 2010/11.


Facts and Stats

  • In Canada, it is estimated that 2 - 8% of deaths due to cancer are due to workplace hazards (CCOHS, 2005).
  • Cancer Care Ontario reports that Ontario alone spends over $2 billion a year on cancer.
  • Employees working in jobs that are high demand/low control with high effort and low reward are 5x more likely to develop cancer (Health Canada, 2000).
  • The average cost of treatment per cancer case is estimated to be $65 000 (Cancer Care Ontario).
  • At least 30% of fatal cancers in Canada are as a result of smoking (Health Canada).

Additional Resources

Here are some other websites to consider for additional information:


Other Topics

Revised: July 04, 2014


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