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Statistical Reports

Cancer in First Nations in Ontario: Risk Factors and Screening Report

Mar 2017
Data Type: Risk Factors
Publication Series:

We have partnered with the Chiefs of Ontario to develop and publish Cancer in First Nations in Ontario: Risk Factors and Screening to address the information gap associated with First Nations health data.

This report is unique as it contains information about cancer risk factors and screening uptake for both on-reserve and off-reserve First Nations in Ontario, presented side by side.

There are over 270,000 First Nations in Ontario, of which 203,000 are registered under the Indian Act. Of those registered, 46% live on-reserve. Of the 133 First Nation communities in Ontario, 33 lack year-round road access and 61 are rural/remote limiting their accessibility to health services. Whether living on-reserve or off-reserve, First Nations are more likely to experience poorer health, including higher rates of many chronic conditions such as diabetes, than the general Ontario poulation.

Highlights of the Report

  • Provides an introduction to First Nations in Ontario, including background on cultural and historical perspectives of First Nations’ health and wellbeing
  • Identifies evidence linking modifiable risk factors to common cancers and the importance of these factors in relation to cancer risk
  • Presents, describes and interprets estimates of prevalence of several modifiable cancer-related risk factors and participation in cancer screening in Ontario’s First Nations population

This report is aligned with our third Aboriginal Cancer Strategy, which highlights prevention, education and research and surveillance as key priorities. The research provides First Nations with important information to help them reduce their cancer risk and also helps inform evidence-based policies and programs.

Risk Factors and Screening: Slideshow

Figure Descriptions

Figure 1: Commercial Tobacco

To many First Nations peoples, tobacco is a sacred plant that has spiritual and medicinal purposes. The recreational use of commercial tobacco (i.e. cigarettes) has no connection to First Nations spirituality

Figure 2: Commercial Tobacco

Smoking commercial tobacco can increase the risk of lung cancer

Figure 3: Commercial Tobacco

First Nations adults are almost 2 times more likely to smoke cigarettes than other adults

Figure 4: Commercial Tobacco

First Nations teens are more likely to smoke than other teens

Figure 5: Alcohol

Many people do not know that drinking alcohol can cause cancer. Drinking even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of many cancers

Figure 6: Alcohol

Cancers related to drinking alcohol: breast, mouth, throat esophagus, liver, colon

Figure 7: Alcohol

Over 1 in 3 on-reserve First Nations adults did not drink alcohol in the past year

Figure 8: Alcohol

First Nations adults are more likely to binge drink than other adults

Figure 9: Nutrition

Traditional First Nations diets are largely composed of foods grown, harvested and hunted from the land and water and are a healthy choice

Figure 10: Nutrition

An unhealthy diet increases the risk of colorectal cancer

Figure 11: Nutrition

First Nations adults are more likely to live in households that are food insecure (e.g. low availability of culturally appropriate food, households worried about running out of food, etc.)

Figure 12: Weight and Physical Activity

Being overweight or obese causes over 2,500 cancers diagnosed in Ontario every year

Figure 13: Weight and Physical Activity

About 3 in 4 First Nations adults are overweight or obese

Figure 14: Weight and Physical Activity

On-reserve First Nations adults are less likely to be physically active compared to off-reserve First Nations adults and other adults. Women are less likely to be physically active than men

Figure 15: Cancer Prevention

  • Stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Eat traditional food, fruit, vegetables & whole grains
  • Be physically active

Figure 16: Cancer Screening