Digestive disorders cost Canadians $18 billion annually in health care and
lost productivity, study finds

    
    Results of National Digestive Disorders Prevalence and Impact Study
    presented today
    

TORONTO, Nov. 4 /CNW/ - Look at the person on your left; now look at the person on your right. Of the three of you, two are likely to have a digestive disorder, according to information revealed today by the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation.

Each year, approximately 20 million people are affected by digestive disorders in Canada. Digestive disorders result in over 18 million sick days, account for 10 per cent of all hospitalizations and cost the Canadian economy $18 billion annually through direct health care costs and lost productivity. However, due to the perceived embarrassment associated with digestive symptoms, there is a lack of understanding of the enormous impact digestive disorders have on Canadians and a profound unwillingness to shed more light on the subject.

In order to break the silence surrounding digestive disorders, the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation is presenting the results of its National Digestive Disorders Prevalence & Impact Study Report, Establishing Digestive Health as a National Priority, at the first ever Canadian Digestive Health Strategy and Action Plan Visioning Meeting. The Visioning Meeting brings together government officials, association heads, national foundations and leading physicians from across Canada to discuss the future of digestive health in Canada.

"The recent prevalence and impact study clearly shows the escalating costs and reduced quality of life associated with digestive disorders," states Dr. Richard Fedorak, President of the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, and Professor, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Alberta. "The study, combined with the Canadian Digestive Health Strategy and Action Plan Visioning Meeting, are the first steps in breaking down the barriers of silence. We need to deliver solutions to the millions of Canadians who are affected so they can take control of their digestive health with confidence and optimism. By doing so, we can reduce the cost and impact digestive diseases have on the Canadian health care system, our economy and those who are suffering."

"Currently, there are chronic disease strategies in place to address cancer prevention, diabetes, heart health and arthritis; but none for digestive health," states Dr. Alan Barkun, Meeting Chair, Canadian Digestive Health Strategy and Action Plan and Chairholder of the DG Kinnear Chair in Gastroenterology at McGill University. "The work being done at the Canadian Digestive Health Strategy and Action Plan Visioning Meeting will go a long way towards helping create a strategy that will one day improve the lives of all Canadians suffering from digestive disorders."

The enormous impacts digestive disorders have on Canadian lives, the economy and the health care system are grossly underestimated because government bodies, physicians and the public are uncomfortable openly discussing the symptoms associated with digestive disorders. As a result, there is often a delay in diagnosis, a greater socioeconomic impact and a lack of funding directed towards public education and research for digestive health.

"I personally experienced the tragic impacts digestive diseases can have, not only on patients, but also on their loved ones when my brother Mike died from esophageal cancer," states Brian Savage, former Montreal Canadien and advocate for the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. "I urge all Canadians who are affected by digestive disorders to speak openly about their illnesses and symptoms to help change the perception of digestive health in Canada for those who will be diagnosed in the future."

The Canadian Digestive Health Strategy and Action Plan will create a comprehensive, integrated approach so Canadians at all levels can work to reduce the impact of digestive disorders. The purpose of the Visioning Meeting is two fold - to start recruiting the coalition that will work together to develop the strategy and to help collect a broad base of issues from all the key stakeholders. Then the coalition will work on developing new solutions as well as integrating with other health initiatives already underway. Attendees will share ideas on critical topics including prevention, education, delivery of services and the digestive health crisis affecting aboriginal Canadians and our aging population through a series of group working sessions.

About the Prevalence & Impact Study

The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation Digestive Disorders Prevalence & Impact Study Report highlights the substantial socioeconomic burden that digestive disorders have on Canadian business, healthcare and individuals. All major areas of digestive disorders were examined in the study including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, liver disease and colon cancer.

    
    Some of the results found in the study include:

    -   Next to lung cancer, digestive cancers kill more Canadians than any
        other cancer type
    -   8 million Canadians suffer from lower gastrointestinal symptoms with
        an average of five million Canadians experiencing heartburn and/or
        acid regurgitation at least once each week
    -   Canada has one of the highest rates of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
        in the world with over five million Canadians affected
    -   Canada has the highest reported prevalence and incidence rates of IBD
        in the world with over 200,000 Canadians living with the disease
    -   One in every 10 Canadians will develop a stomach ulcer at some point
        in their lifetime
    -   In 2008, it was estimated that over 200,000 Canadians are living with
        IBD
    -   In First Nation communities, approximately 75 per cent of the people
        are infected with H. pylori. H. pylori infection is considered to be
        a carcinogen by the World Health Organization as it is associated
        with the development of stomach cancer
    -   In western countries, rates of celiac disease have nearly doubled in
        the last 25 years
    -   Approximately 270,000 Canadians were infected with hepatitis B last
        year
    

A full version of the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation National Digestive Disorders Prevalence & Impact Study Report is available for review at www.CDHF.ca.

About the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation

Over 20 million Canadians suffer from digestive disorders every year. The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation believes this is unnecessary and unacceptable. We reduce suffering and improve quality of life by empowering Canadians with trusted, up to date, science-based information about digestive health and disease.

As the Foundation of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, we work directly with leading physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals to help Canadians understand and take control of their digestive health with confidence and optimism. Through education and research, we strive to:

    
    -   REDUCE the incidence and prevalence of digestive disorders
    -   IMPROVE understanding of digestive health issues
    -   SUPPORT those suffering from digestive disorders
    -   ENHANCE quality of life for those living with digestive disorders
    

About Danone Group

In Canada, Danone Inc., a member of Danone Group, is a leader in the food industry, offering top quality products combining health and well-being for the benefit of consumers. Danone is the largest yogurt producer. The company is committed to the idea that "actions taken today must result in improved quality of life for Canadians tomorrow." The company lives up to this commitment through initiatives like its partnership with the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. Danone supported the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation National Digestive Disorders Prevalence & Impact Study Report and the Canadian Digestive Health Strategy and Action Plan Visioning Meeting with unrestricted educational grants.

SOURCE CANADIAN DIGESTIVE HEALTH FOUNDATION

For further information: For further information: or to schedule an interview with a Canadian Digestive Health Foundation representative, please contact: Chrome Communications, T: (905) 567-1406 or Toll Free: 1-888-867-1406, Alon Barmapov, ext. 223, C: (647) 405-1352, alon@chromecommunications.ca; Amanda Webster, ext. 222, C: (647) 339-7096, amanda@chromecommunications.ca

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CANADIAN DIGESTIVE HEALTH FOUNDATION

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