Report highlights need for culturally sensitive approaches to prevention

cancer reportTORONTO, ON (July 29, 2015) – A new report developed jointly by Cancer Care Ontario and the Métis Nation of Ontario shows that within the Métis population in Ontario, cancer risk factors are significantly higher when compared with the non-Aboriginal provincial population. The report, Cancer in the Métis People of Ontario: Risk Factors and Screening Behaviours, identifies key factors that impact cancer rates in the Métis population and provides recommendations for cancer prevention and risk reduction.

Although almost one third of all Aboriginal people in Canada are Métis, they are often under-identified or under-represented in Indigenous health research and statistics. To address this gap, Cancer Care Ontario and the Métis Nation of Ontario worked collaboratively to produce the report, which provides Métis-specific data and knowledge that will be used to inform policy and program development to reduce the risk of cancer amongst Métis populations and to reduce health inequities in this at risk population.

“By working in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario, we were able to bring together data from multiple sources to increase our knowledge of key cancer risks factors in our communities,” said Gary Lipinski, President of the Métis Nation of Ontario. “Most importantly, it will help us target valuable health resources to where they will be most effective in bringing about measurable improvements in the health and well-being of the Métis people of Ontario.”

The report is aligned with Cancer Care Ontario’s Aboriginal Cancer Strategy II, which highlights research and surveillance as a strategic priority. It is also in line with Métis Nation of Ontario’s commitment to developing our understanding of key health risk factors and reasons for health disparities in the Métis Nation.

Key Facts:

    • High rates of smoking and exposure to second hand smoke are of particular concern, with 40 per cent of Ontario Métis adult males and 34 per cent of Métis adult females smoking cigarettes daily or occasionally, compared to 26 per cent of non-Aboriginal men and 18 per cent of non-Aboriginal women.
    • Smoking rates are greater among Métis adults with less education and lower income.
    • More Métis teens and young adults smoke compared to their non-Aboriginal peers.
    • Alcohol consumption is a significant cancer risk factor, and Métis men are at greater risk, with 15 per cent drinking more than the maximum daily amount recommended for cancer prevention (fewer than two drinks a day), compared to 10 per cent of non-Aboriginal men in Ontario.
    • More than one-quarter of Métis adults in Ontario are obese (27 per cent of males and 27 per cent of females). These rates significantly exceed obesity rates in non-Aboriginal Ontarians (19 per cent of males and 16 per cent of females).
    • Many Métis adults are not sufficiently active. Métis spend more time in front of a screen compared to non-Aboriginal Ontarians, with nearly three-quarters of Métis adults spending more than 14 hours per week in front of a screen during their leisure time, compared to 62 per cent of non-Aboriginal Ontarians.
    • Métis Ontarians are less likely to be up-to-date with cancer screening tests compared to non-Aboriginal Ontarians. For instance, only 49 per cent of Métis women aged 50–74 have had a recent mammogram for breast cancer, compared to over 60 per cent of non-Aboriginal women.
    • Métis aged 50–54 are particularly under-screened for colorectal cancer, with over 60% due for screening

“The data in this report and other evidence demonstrate that the Métis community would benefit from culture-based programming that supports and encourages healthy behaviour and lifestyle changes to reduce cancer risk, and from interventions that educate and help raise awareness of the broader risk factors for cancer,” said Dr. Loraine Marrett, Senior Scientist, Cancer Care Ontario.

Dr. Marrett added: “Métis-specific interventions that are wholistic and which target multiple risk factors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, may be required to effectively reduce cancer risk. Family-based interventions that are framed within the very community and family-centred Métis way of life are also those which will be most to likely resonate with the Métis people.”

Recommendations outlined within the report target risk factors that impact not only cancer, but also other serious chronic diseases, such as diabetes, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease that are known to be higher in the Métis people of Ontario. They include:

    • Immediate action to reduce commercial tobacco use;
    • Programs and supports to help reduce obesity rates;
    • Interventions for economically disadvantaged Métis, who are most likely to experience high rates of risk factors and associated chronic diseases, and also typically less likely to have the supports in place required for healthy living and sustainable behaviour change.

The full report is available here. To view the Backgrounder click here.

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For more information contact:
Cancer Care Ontario
Phone: 1-855-460-2646

Métis Nation of Ontario
Phone: 613-798-1488