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Study Provides Insights for Targeted Cancer Prevention in Erie St. Clair

March 14, 2017

2 min read

A study led by a team based out of Cancer Care Ontario in partnership with Lambton Public Health has found elevated rates of tobacco smoking and excess body weight among residents of the Erie St. Clair region—and those rates vary among certain neighbourhoods.

Smoking and excess body weight are 2 of the most common behavioural risk factors associated with preventable chronic diseases, including cancer. This study is among the first in Canada to look at the rates of risk factors among people in small neighbourhood areas (average of 400 to 700 people) as opposed to more common macro-level studies that look at national or provincial rates. The results show there are differences in people’s behaviours even within a city or county.

"Most of the information we have about chronic disease risk factors in Ontario is based on sample surveys that don’t provide community-level insights," says Dr. Prithwish De, Director, Surveillance and Cancer Registry, Analytics & Informatics, Cancer Care Ontario. "Focusing our analysis on a small neighbourhood allows us to identify areas of concern and provide the local public health unit with information they can use for program planning."

In this study, which was published in June 2016, researchers found differences in rates of smoking and excess weight within the Erie St. Clair region. For example, estimated rates of current smoking were much higher among men in downtown Windsor and the industrial area in southern Sarnia compared to the provincial average.

In addition, excess body weight was more common among people living in the rural areas of Essex County compared to the rest of Erie St. Clair and the provincial average. This trend was particularly notable among men.

"There is an increasing interest among researchers to examine the prevalence of chronic disease risk factors in small communities," says Crystal Palleschi, Epidemiologist, Lambton Public Health. "From a public health perspective, these data increase our understanding of variations in risk factors across geographic areas. It can also be combined with other evidence to inform future programs and interventions."

Lambton Public Health works with multiple stakeholders to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases at the population level. They work directly with residents through various health promotion programs, including smoking cessation programs, student nutrition programs in schools, and workplace wellness programs.

About this study

This research was conducted by a team of researchers from Cancer Care Ontario, Dalla Lana School of Public Health (University of Toronto), Public Health Ontario and Lambton Public Health, and was funded by the Environment-Cancer Fund at the Cancer Research Society and Read for the Cure. The study was published in BioMed Central (BMC) Public Health in June 2016.

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