Chronic diseases (including cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes) are increasingly affecting people in Alberta, and the search for effective strategies to prevent them is a top priority1.

Let's consider the impact of cancer: one in two men and one in three women will develop cancer.2 One in four people in Alberta will die from cancer in their lifetime2. By 2030, the projected number of new cancer cases each year will be 65 percent higher than it was in 20103.

Prevention is the best way to prevent chronic disease including cancer, and this means not giving these conditions a chance to start!

Many people in Alberta believe cancer and other chronic diseases are a matter of bad luck or faulty genes and that there is little they can do to prevent it. Yet research suggests that only 5-10% of cancers are related to biology and genes. Age and sex are beyond our control. But about 4 out of 10 cancers in Alberta, and most chronic disease can be prevented by making changes to our diet and physical activity, by reducing or eliminating alcohol and tobacco consumption, taking advantage of screening programs and reducing our UV exposure. These factors are called modifiable risk factors.

Connection to chronic disease

These same modifiable risk factors aren’t just linked to cancer, they are also responsible for most chronic conditions.

Physical Inactivity

Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Mental Health Issues

Unhealthy Eating

Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Mental Health Issues

Tobacco Use

Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Respiratory Disease, Oral Health

Alcohol Consumption

Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Mental Health Issues

While changing risk behaviour is important, the impact of broader factors profoundly impacts our choices and behaviours in every-day life. Change depends on what is available, accessible4,5, and affordable in peoples’ environments, along with knowing how to effectively access resources to help make those changes. Individuals can’t do it alone. Building a supportive community means creating a space where people have opportunities to make the healthier choice, the easier choice.

  2. Public Health Agency of Canada. Fact sheet: Government of Canada chronic disease initiatives [Internet]. Ottawa (ON); [modified 2011 Sep 19; cited 2013 Jun 24]
  3. Government of Alberta, 2013. Changing our future: Alberta’s Cancer Plan to 2030
  4. Alberta Prevents Cancer (2017) Community Cancer Prevention & Screening Dashboard. Retrieved from:
  5. [Insert Gov AB, 2013)