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Cancer Council Says Queenslanders Are Dying Preventable Deaths

Cancer Council Queensland has called for urgent joint action by governments and the community to curb an alarming increase in the number of Queenslanders dying of preventable diseases.

Queensland has the third-highest obesity rate in the nation, among the highest rates of daily smoking and one in five Queenslanders are facing risk of long-term harm from alcohol use.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said increased investment in health prevention and awareness was key to Queensland’s future health.

Referring to the first-ever State of Preventive Health report, released last month, Ms Clift said serious health challenges were currently facing the state.

“In Queensland, more than 65 per cent of adults are overweight or obese, 17.5 per cent still smoke daily and almost 20 per cent consume alcohol at risky levels,” Ms Clift said. “It is a serious concern that in spite of recent advancements in our understanding of disease treatment and management, health inequalities are increasing.

“For example, although the adult smoking rate has declined overall, the difference in smoking prevalence between cities and regional areas has sharply increased. “Much greater investment in preventive health is urgently needed to address the fact that the prevalence of smoking in remote areas is almost double that of major centres.”

The report also found rates of obesity between disadvantaged and advantaged regions had almost doubled since 1995, growing from a gap of 34 per cent to 63 per cent over a 16 year period, with those in disadvantaged regions in an unhealthier physical shape.

“The evidence suggests that regional Queenslanders are at much higher risk of ill health and premature death than their city counterparts,” Ms Clift said.

“Obesity, daily smoking rates and alcohol consumption are all typically higher in regions outside urban centres. “CCQ’s own research has found tragic inequalities in cancer survival, with an estimated 120 regional Queenslanders dying from cancer each year because survival rates are not equal to those in the city.

“It’s important for all Queenslanders, no matter where they live, to have equal access to environments and support systems that promote health and reduce risks of chronic disease.” Ms Clift urged all Queenslanders to take action in three ways.

“Encourage all levels of government to invest in collaborative approaches to preventive health, join CCQ’s new QUEST program online to reduce your risk, and involve your workplace and community in our QUEST campaign and other healthy lifestyle activities.

“By working together, we can normalise lifestyle habits for good lifetime health – creating a smoke free Queensland, promoting the availability and enjoyment of healthy, fresh food, exercising to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, being sun smart, and avoiding or limiting alcohol.

“We have the potential to prevent up to one-third of all deaths from cancer in Queensland by supporting one another to be healthier.

“Preventive health is a lifesaving investment in vital need of additional public funding to create hope for a cancer free future. “Families all the way from the tip of Cape York to the border crossing at Coolangatta will benefit from improved commitment and collaboration.”

Queenslanders can join the QUEST to reduce their risk of cancer at www.cancerqld.org.au/quest.
For more information about Cancer Council Queensland see www.cancerqld.org.au or call the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.

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AMSJ April 2022