Nine out of 10 Canadian families battling cancer are also battling financial debt, according to a study released Thursday.
The Canadian Cancer Society, in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Action Network, released a three-year study in Winnipeg that examined the financial hardship that can be brought on by a cancer diagnosis.
For some, a diagnosis begins a financial tailspin that pushes ordinary people over the edge resulting in debt, distress, bankruptcy and even a lifetime on social assistance.
Winnipegger Teresa Solta knows the story first hand. Within a year of her youngest daughter's spinal cord cancer diagnosis, Solta went from being a successful business owner to full-time caregiver.
She suddenly had very little income and four children to look after.
One year later, the accountant herself was diagnosed with leukemia and was forced to stop work entirely. In the months that followed, she declared bankruptcy, lost her home and moved with her four children into her parents' two-bedroom apartment..
"My pride took such a beating because I was very pleased with the fact that I'd been so self-sufficient," she said.
"Just imagine what it feels like to have a 13-year-old break down in tears and tell you that, 'we're homeless.' That really hurts. That broke my heart."
The Cancer Society is calling for income stability for patients and caregivers and more funding for affordable cancer drugs and medical equipment.
EARLIER: Myths and facts about breast cancer:
One of the possible risk factors that is the most controversial in the world of breast cancer are the findings about soy's source of estrogen — which some say can even cause cancer. One thing is certain, the soybean and its derivatives — tofu, soymilk, tempeh (fermented soybeans) — are all interesting alternatives to meat because of their protein content and unsaturated fat levels. But other studies indicate that soybeans are rich in antioxidants known to prevent several cancers, including breast cancer itself. That being said, some studies indicate that it would be safer to consume soy before menopause and women with breast cancer or in remission should reduce soybean consumption or eat in moderation.
A scientific journal published in Advances in Nutrition in 2011, noted the importance of having zinc in your diet to boost the immune system and our DNA make-up. Until more scientific evidence is found, it would still be a good idea to add zinc-related foods to your dish like oysters, clams, butter sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and legumes.
Well known for its role in calcium absorption, vitamin D has also been the subject of studies for cancer prevention. In the case of breast cancer, some studies have shown that vitamin D can even prevent it. On the contrary, other studies have not achieved the same results. That said, we also know that the treatment of breast cancer chemotherapy causes a loss of bone density in women pre-menopause. This is more of a reason to ensure an adequate intake of vitamin D, especially from October to March, when sunlight is rare. Try foods like fish, — especially canned with bones, milk, yogurt, vegetable drinks fortified with vitamin D, eggs and shiitake mushrooms.
Several studies have confirmed that women who consume alcohol on a regular basis increase their risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Even one drink a day raises the risk by four per cent. Those who have the habit of drinking three or more drinks a day saw their risk rise to over 40 per cent. That being said, moderation is key for cancer prevention.
Obesity significantly increases the risk of developing breast cancer, particularly in post-menopausal women. Being diagnosed with obesity at the time of breast cancer was associated with poorer survival, the study added.
Nursing can possibly help prevent breast cancer and lower it's risks, according to a report by About.com. On top of this, one 2002 study found that an estimated 25,000 breast cancers would be prevented in developed countries if women had the same number of children but breastfed each child for six months longer, the CBC reports.