The Ontario Health Study invites all Ontario adults to join a research effort to fight cancer, heart disease, asthma, diabetes and other common diseases

TORONTO, Sept. 29 /CNW/ - The largest population-based health study ever conducted in Ontario was launched today.

The Ontario Health Study is a long-term research study initially funded by four organizations: the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Care Ontario, the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The Ontario Health Study is also a participating study of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project which consists of a further four regional studies across Canada.

The insights we will gain from the Ontario Health Study will inform research and health policy in an unprecedented way. I know I'm planning to sign up, and I'm going to encourage other MPPs to do the same. I hope all Ontarians over 18 will consider joining us."
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Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

The Study will help to understand the complex web of factors that increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer's disease and other common conditions. Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in adults in Ontario. These diseases and other common conditions reduce the quality of life for more than a million Ontario residents and lead to many billions of dollars in health-care costs.

"Ontario's large, ethnically diverse population, world-class medical research, and outstanding health data linkage system make it the ideal place to conduct research that will lead to advances in the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other common conditions. We have planned a strategy to reach out to all adults living in Ontario from every ethnic and social background in order to collect data that can be used to improve the health of all of Ontario's communities, and to produce findings that will be relevant throughout the world."
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Professor Lyle Palmer, Executive Scientific Director, Ontario Health Study

A multidisciplinary team led by Professor Palmer will engage scientists from a wide range of disciplines at universities, hospitals and other institutions throughout the province to find out how factors such as the environment, lifestyle, behavior and genetics interact with one another and lead to development of common diseases. The Study will also shine a light on how different diseases are related to each other - for instance, why depression is closely associated with heart disease. The Study aims to follow participants over their entire life-span - long enough to study the development and progression of common conditions in the general population. The Study's findings will further efforts to prevent common diseases and help researchers develop new treatments.

Every Ontario adult aged 18 and over can enroll by completing an online questionnaire at www.ontariohealthstudy.ca. Participants will be asked to provide information about health-related subjects such as: personal and family medical history, where they live, and their lifestyle and diet. Approximately 9.5 million Ontarians will be eligible to volunteer to join the study.

Study participants are protected by extensive ethics and privacy frameworks that include an Ethics Advisory Committee and oversight by the Research Ethics Board of the University of Toronto and strict standards for de-identification and secure storage of data.

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

OICR is a new centre of excellence, moving Ontario to the forefront of discovery and innovation in cancer research. The Institute is dedicated to research in the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The Institute is an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded by the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit the website at www.oicr.on.ca/commercialization

Cancer Care Ontario

Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) is the provincial agency responsible for continually improving cancer services. As the government's cancer advisor, CCO works to reduce the number of people diagnosed with cancer, and make sure that patients receive better care every step of the way. CCO is also host to the Ontario Familial Colon Cancer Registry.  For more information visit www.cancercare.on.ca.

Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion

The Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (OAHPP) is an arm's-length government agency dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of all Ontarians and reducing inequities in health. As a hub organization, OAHPP links public health practitioners, front-line health workers and researchers to the best scientific intelligence and knowledge from around the world. For more information, please visit www.oahpp.ca

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is an independent organization funded by the federal government to accelerate action on cancer control for all Canadians. Bringing together cancer experts, government representatives, the Canadian Cancer Society and cancer patients, survivors and their families through the Canadian Cancer Action Network to implement the first pan-Canadian cancer-control strategy, the vision is to be a driving force to achieve a focused approach that will help prevent cancer, enhance the quality of life of those affected by cancer, lessen the likelihood of dying from cancer, and increase the efficiency of cancer control in Canada. For more information about the Partnership and Canada's cancer control strategy, visit www.partnershipagainstcancer.ca.


Background: The Ontario Health Study

The Ontario Health Study is a population-based health study aimed at investigating the factors that increase individuals' risk of developing cancer, heart disease, asthma, diabetes and other common diseases. The Ontario Health Study will be the largest population-based health study ever conducted in Ontario, and is designed to be a 'big-vision' scientific project of international significance. Approximately nine and a half million Ontarians will be eligible to volunteer to join the study.

The Study has been designed by a team of medical researchers and population scientists from many universities, medical research institutes and hospitals across Ontario, and will examine environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors associated with both disease and health. The Study will pay special attention to the complex interplay of factors that underlie the development of many of the most common diseases. Findings from the study are expected to help researchers find new ways to prevent and treat disease.

The Ontario Health Study is a not-for-profit study that has initially been funded by four organizations: the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Care Ontario, the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The Ontario Health Study is also a participating cohort of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project which consists of a further four regional studies across Canada.

All Ontario adults will be invited to contribute data and the Study will follow participants for their entire lifespan. If enough people from Ontario volunteer, the Ontario Health Study will be the biggest and most comprehensive population health research project in the world. Findings from the Study will be used to help prevent common disease and to assist doctors and researchers find new targets for diagnosis and treatment.

Ontario residents age 18 and older are invited to complete a questionnaire online. In the next phase of the Study some volunteers will be asked to provide detailed data regarding lifestyle and diet, together with measures relevant to lung function, cardiovascular function, immune function, eye disease, hearing loss, mental health, and many other health indicators. To ensure the findings are widely applicable, this cohort will reflect the ethnic, geographic and socio-economic diversity of Ontario's population.

Planning for the Ontario Health Study has been underway for more than two years. An active outreach program has consulted academic, medical and business communities, as well as broader society, about the potential for a large-scale cohort study. A parallel program has examined the ethical, legal and social issues related to conducting large-scale population-based research in Ontario. The Study incorporates sophisticated computer controls and highly secure data-storage systems as well as an ethics and privacy committee. It has been approved by the research ethics board of the University of Toronto.


For further information:

Aaron Furfaro
Communications Officer, Ontario Health Study
Office (647) 259-8908
Mobile (647) 981-8203
aaron.furfaro@ontariohealthstudy.ca