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Coming together to prevent cancer and chronic disease

For Cancer Care Nova Scotia, it is not the ides of March that matter. It is the ideas of March.

This spring as the month of March comes to a close, experts from around the country will be meeting in Halifax to explore policy issues arising from a new, and as yet unreleased, report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

This policy docuMarch2009coverment follows from a groundbreaking report prepared by the two organizations entitled Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention
of Cancer:  a Global Perspective. Its goal was ambitious – and important: To review all the relevant research to generate a comprehensive series of recommendations on food, nutrition, and physical activity, designed to reduce the risk of cancer and suitable for all societies.

“We want to take a closer look at the policy implications of these reports for Canada,” says CCNS’s Chief Operating Officer Theresa Marie Underhill. 

“Together with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer we have invited experts from numerous fields – including health, finance, nutrition and physical activity – to meet over two days and examine how we can as a country move forward on the global recommendations relating to cancer and chronic disease prevention,” she notes.

"We believe primary prevention is the most cost-effective long-term strategy to reduce the burden of cancer," says Dr. Heather Bryant, Vice-President, Cancer Control with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. "The Partnership is pleased to be providing the support for this important meeting, as collaboration with other cancer and chronic disease organizations will be critical to positive outcomes."

This is only the beginning. Following the national symposium, CCNS is hosting a one-day session for experts from across Nova Scotia to look at the implications, and the opportunities, for cancer and chronic disease prevention in the province.

“Learning from each other is essential, and CCNS is proud to lead the effort,” says Theresa Marie. “Together we will explore and understand further the impact of the report and the policy recommendations on Canada’s cancer control strategy and on provincial policies.”

Action is equally important, she adds. “It is our intention at these sessions to identify a process for advancing policy efforts in Canada that will support cancer prevention and contribute to broader chronic disease prevention.”
The Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, the second such expert report, features eight general and two special recommendations. Together they comprise a blueprint that individuals, communities and countries can follow to help reduce their risk of developing cancer and chronic disease.

The report’s recommendations fall into 10 categories. They are body fatness; physical activity; foods and drinks that promote weight gain; plant foods; animal foods; preservation, processing, preparation; dietary supplements; breastfeeding; and cancer survivors.

“As we look at the recommendations and the implications for Canada and for Nova Scotia, we will also be looking at a healthier future for our citizens and their families,” says Theresa Marie. “This is what lies at the heart of two sessions we are coordinating. This is what makes them so vital.”