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Higher cancer risk for Inuit

A higher prevalence of smokers, lack of access to nutritious food, and being overdue for cancer screening at medical facilities are factors that raise cancer risks for Inuit, according to a new report.

Developed jointly by Cancer Care Ontario and Tungasuvvingat Inuit, the report indicates that risk factors for cancer are significantly higher among Inuit compared to non-Indigenous Ontarians.

The study acknowledges, however, that "more Inuit-specific health data are needed for tracking and monitoring cancer disease rates and outcomes, improving the understanding of key health determinants, and assessing the impacts of interventions designed to reduce risk and disease rates in the growing Inuit population outside Inuit Nunangat."

"We know that behaviours such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption and a healthy diet can impact an individual’s risk of developing cancer, but until recently, very little research has been done on the prevalence of these behaviours among Inuit in southern Canada," stated Alethea Kewayosh, director of the Aboriginal Cancer Control Unit, Cancer Care Ontario.

"The data in this report provide a clear picture of the state of Inuit health in this country and show that many Inuit fare poorer across these risk factors than non-Aboriginal Ontarians. Together with Tungasuvvingat Inuit, our hope is that this knowledge will be used to inform culturally appropriate programming to effectively reduce health inequities for Inuit, wherever they live."

About the Author: Derek Neary

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