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The biggest health risks every person should know about

What are the biggest health risks facing Ontarians today – and what should we be most concerned about?  

According to Public Health Ontario, “chronic diseases and conditions are the leading cause of death and disability in Ontario.” The most common diseases are cancers, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), chronic respiratory diseases (CRD) and diabetes. 

Unhealthy eating, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, and tobacco use are lifestyle risks that can contribute to increased risk of chronic diseases.

Four in five Canadian adults have at least one modifiable risk factor – meaning you can take measures to change your risk for developing chronic diseases and conditions. And one in five live with at least one of the following major chronic diseases: CVD, cancer, CRD and diabetes. Mood and anxiety disorders are also common among Canadians and account for the leading cause of disability for working age adults. 

Here’s a closer look at the biggest chronic diseases and conditions facing Ontarians today: 




Cancer is the general term for a group of more than 200 related diseases, and is the leading cause of death in Canada. It is caused when cells in the body start to grow abnormally and spread to other parts of the body. Lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer are the most common types of cancer.


Cardiovascular disease


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a term used to describe diseases of the circulatory system (heart and blood vessels). The most common CVDs are ischemic heart disease (which can lead to heart attack), stroke and heart failure. Many CVDs are preventable.


Chronic respiratory disease


Chronic respiratory disease (CRD) is used to describe diseases that affect the lungs and airways. Common types include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), cystic fibrosis and sleep apnea. Risk factors for CRDs include tobacco smoke, air pollution and occupational chemicals and dusts. 




Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body is unable to sufficiently produce or use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Along with other chronic diseases, Type II diabetes is a health outcome related to lifestyle risk factors such as diet and physical activity. 


Mood and anxiety disorders


Mood disorders are a group of mental illnesses that affect how you feel and think about yourself, other people and life in general. While there are a few different types of mood disorders, depression is a common mood disorder.  

Everyone experiences symptoms of anxiety, but they are generally occasional and short-lived. When the symptoms of anxiety are persistent and severe, and anxiety causes distress to the point that it negatively affects a person’s ability to work, socialize and manage daily tasks, it may be beyond the normal range.

Why it matters

Taking a proactive approach to your health can go a long way in ensuring your best quality of life.

You can help lower your risk for developing chronic diseases and conditions, and in some cases preventing them, by:

Your benefits plan provides coverage for medically necessary and eligible expenses incurred in the treatment of chronic diseases and conditions for you and your dependants. If you have any questions about your benefits coverage, or to review your benefits booklet to see what resources and services are available to you through your benefits plan, view your benefits booklet on the OTIP plan member site.

To support and protect your health and mental wellness throughout the year, OTIP offers wellness programs to all plan members who have coverage, insurance products and/or services with us. 

It is important that you consult your health-care provider if you have concerns about your health or before you start a wellness program.   

Related article: Your health is a priority: Stop avoiding it.

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