Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nothing you can do about cancer? False! Learn the truth on World Cancer Day

TORONTO, Ontario January 30, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - World Cancer Day on February 4 aims to dispel myths about cancer, including: "There is nothing I can do about cancer." The truth is that there is a lot that can be done at an individual, community and policy level.
"People often feel powerless when it comes to cancer, and that's why we encourage Canadians to take control and empower themselves with information," says Rowena Pinto, Vice President, Public Affairs, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. "There is much that we can do each and every day about cancer and we can do this both individually and collectively."
10 ways to do something about cancer
1. Live well
About half of all cancers can be prevented by eating well, being active and maintaining a healthy body weight and not smoking. Reduce your risk of skin cancer by protecting yourself from excessive sun exposure and don't use indoor tanning.
2. Don't smoke
Smoking is responsible for more than 85% of lung cancer cases in Canada. Our Smokers' Helpline is a free, confidential service for smokers. Call if you want to quit, are thinking about quitting or have stopped smoking and need support: 1-877-513-5333.
3. Get checked
When cancer is found early, it's often easier to treat. If you're in a certain age or population group, you can havescreening tests that help find breast, cervical and colorectal cancer before you've even noticed symptoms.
4. Know your family history
Approximately 5 to 10% of cancers are related to family genetics. It is important to discuss screening with your doctor if you have a family history of cancer.
5. Be aware
Know if you're being exposed to cancer-causing substances in the workplace, your home and in your community so that you can make informed decisions about your health.
6. Raise funds
Volunteering to raise funds or participating in a fundraising event is critical to helping prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Without funds, we wouldn't be able to make the impact that we do in communities across Canada.
7. Give
Make a donation, support an event participant or buy a lottery ticket. It's easy. Find out more at
8. Take action
Changing public policy is one of the most effective tools for preventing cancer and helping those living with and beyond cancer. Visit to learn how you can advocate for healthy public policies in Ontario.
9. Get involved
Volunteering is an opportunity for you to make a positive impact in your community, be part of a team, share your experience, learn new skills and develop lasting friendships. The Canadian Cancer Society offers a variety of ways for you to help, from driving patients to providing peer support to youth advocacy.
10. Connect
If you know someone coping with cancer, we can help. Refer them to the Canadian Cancer Society for information and support services that will help them on their cancer journey. Tell them about our online community. Contact us toll-free at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-886-786-3934) or
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Building on our progress, we are working with Canadians to change cancer forever. For more information, visit or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).
About World Cancer Day
World Cancer Day is an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). A truly global event taking place every year on 4 February, World Cancer Day unites the world's population in the fight against cancer. It aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action. For more information, visit

Monday, January 27, 2014

Planning to Grow Old in Canada? Try Manitoba. New Survey on Long Term Care Costs Released.

TORONTO, Ontario January 27, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - A 2013 national survey just released by LifestageCare™  provides detailed statistics on the consumer costs of a range of specific home care and home health care services, retirement and assisted living residences, nursing homes and adult day care across Canada. In all, 1,638 service providers were surveyed for LifestageCare's 4th annual national report on The Costs of Canadian Long Term Care for the elderly.

The 74 page report is primarily intended for use by both public sector organizations as well as private organizations such as insurance companies, health care organizations and financial advisory services. Information from the survey, some of which is also available online, allows professional planners and their clients to more accurately project the current and future costs of elder care in various locations across the country. At a time when government-paid care for the elderly is increasingly limited and rationed, these findings have become highly relevant for baby-boomers, seniors and various organizations dealing with this demographic.

The survey finds that Ottawa is the most expensive major city for Canadians paying for private retirement homes or assisted living care, followed closely by Toronto. Montreal and Winnipeg are the least expensive major city locations for these categories of care. On a provincial basis, median prices are highest in Ontario. On the other hand, privately paid residential care was found to be least expensive in British Columbia and Manitoba.

About LifestageCare™

 LifestageCare™'s advisory service has been consulting about family care to individuals and organizations since 1988. Part of a privately held Canadian company, LifestageCare™ researches and reports to clients on a full spectrum of personal and health care services for both adults and children. LifestageCare™ is devoted to helping families Canada-wide learn about and navigate their local human service systems in order to better care for their loved ones. For more information, please visit

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pharmacists can help millions of Canadians who suffer from high blood pressure get healthier - study finds

TORONTO, Ontario January 20, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - More than four million Canadians have high blood pressure - yet less than one-third have their condition under control.

A just-released study by the Ontario Pharmacists Association and Green Shield Canada has shown that pharmacists can play a key role in helping patients with hypertension improve their health by substantially lowering their blood pressure.

Launched in late 2011, the study examined the impact of a six-month hypertension management program in which 118 uncontrolled hypertensive patients met regularly with their pharmacists, who provided medication and lifestyle counselling and monitored blood pressure. The randomized controlled trial took place at 38 community pharmacies across Ontario.

The results were outstanding.

The program quadrupled the number of patients who were able to get their blood pressure under control, with an average reduction in systolic blood pressure of 13.5mm Hg. (Studies have shown that a reduction of 10-12mm Hg could reduce a patient's chances of experiencing cardiovascular events and stroke by up to 50 per cent.) In addition, adherence to medication therapy increased by 15 per cent while overall antihypertensive medication costs dropped by 31 per cent.

Patients participating in the study reported a high level of satisfaction with the pharmacists' services, in particular the lifestyle counselling.

"This study demonstrates that when pharmacists are able to take a leadership role in supporting people living with chronic disease, they can make a difference - by improving the health of patients and delivering significant savings to the healthcare system," said Dennis Darby, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. "Providing expert, innovative and accessible care to patients is central to pharmacists' evolving role, and we are pleased to see the outcomes of that care demonstrated so positively."

Improvements in adherence can help lower rates of workplace absenteeism

The improvements in adherence which were highlighted by the study are of particular interest in that they are likely to translate to lower rates of absenteeism in the workplace. A 2012 study on the impact of medication adherence on employee absenteeism and short-term disability, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed that adherent hypertensive patients had 5.2 fewer absent days and 3.5 fewer short-term disability days annually than non-adherent patients.

"When I talk to Canadian employers, a constant worry is the need to control costs in order to ensure their benefit plans remain viable and sustainable," says Steve Bradie, President and CEO at Green Shield Canada, one of Canada's largest health and dental benefits providers. "The bottom line is that this study proves that for a modest investment in health management counselling services, employers can influence better health outcomes, increase drug therapy adherence and, in the end, lower overall plan costs. Now that's a difference maker in the Canadian healthcare system."

The study has demonstrated that a pharmacist-led hypertension management program, provided within the context of a health benefit plan, would be a cost-effective return on investment that produces healthier, more productive employees.

Both the Ontario Pharmacists Association and Green Shield Canada are hoping to open up a dialogue with employers to identify opportunities to implement similar initiatives in their benefit programs.

About the Ontario Pharmacists Association

The Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) is the largest advocacy organization, continuing education and drug information provider for pharmacy professionals in Canada. Representing pharmacists, pharmacy students, and pharmacy technicians across the province, OPA is driven to help evolve the practice of pharmacy and to advocate for the highest standards of professional excellence in practice and patient care. By leveraging the unique expertise of pharmacy professionals, by enabling them to practice to their fullest potential, and by making them more accessible to all Ontarians, OPA and its 8,200 members are working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the province's healthcare system.

About Green Shield Canada

Green Shield Canada (GSC) is a benefits specialist. It's what they do. But as Canada's only national not-for-profit health and dental specialist, their reason for being is the enhancement of the common good. GSC seeks out innovative ways to improve access to better health for Canadians. From coast-to-coast, their service delivery includes drug, dental, extended health care, vision, hospital and travel benefits for groups and individuals, as well as administration services. Supported by cost containment strategies, advanced technology and exceptional customer service, they create customized programs for over one and a half million plan participants nation-wide.

PDF available HERE

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Nanoscale Tools to Help Humans, Plants: University of Guelph Study

GUELPH, Ontario - January 17, 2014 - University of Guelph News Release - Your doctor pinpoints faulty genes that might increase your risk of cancer. Standing in a field, a farmer uses a handheld tool to scan crops for diseases.

Such novel ways to predict and detect human and crop diseases more rapidly and accurately may one day result from new nanoscale methods for looking at genetic material tested by University of Guelph researchers.

So says engineering professor Suresh Neethirajan, who has co-authored a study published in Nanoscale Research Letters with Guelph student Zhong Yangquanwei and Chithra Karunakaran, a researcher at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron facility in Saskatoon.

The team used nanoscale imaging techniques -- notably scanning transmission X-ray microscopy and atomic force microscopy -- to study chromosomes of quinoa, a minor grain crop high in protein.

Conventional imaging tools fail to yield clear pictures of chromosomal structures on the nanoscale, critical to understanding gene function and assessing the appearance and makeup of genetic material, said Neethirajan.

He said nanoscale tools allow researchers to image chromosome structures in 3D and map amounts and kinds of proteins and nucleic acids that make up DNA.

The team’s work might help researchers build libraries of DNA biomarkers to pinpoint defective genes involved in human and plant diseases. Crop scientists might also use these tools to zero in on genes involved in disease resistance or drought tolerance.

“There’s a huge demand for novel tools,” he said. “The imaging work we are doing is the best way to understand and investigate chromosomes in their natural state.”

Neethirajan has used nanoscale imaging tools to look at the evolutionary history of two buckwheat species -- useful information for breeders looking to improve crops.

Working with plant agriculture professor Istvan Rajcan, he plans to apply these imaging tools to soybeans, including looking for genes involved in resistance to cyst nematodes. These pests cost millions of dollars’ worth of damage each year to soybean crops in Ontario.

“The potential for developing precise molecular cytogenetic mapping using nanoscale technology is huge. It is possible to solve key challenges in plant breeding as well as in the biomedical field.”

Imaging for this study took place in Neethirajan’s bio-nano laboratory at Guelph and at the CLS.

Prof. Suresh Neethirajan
School of Engineering
519 824-4120, Ext. 53922