Wayne Borrell

Turning the tide through healthy eating

Māori need to eat healthier to reduce cancer rates, a Cancer Society representative says.

Wayne Borell (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Ranginui) says appalling cancer statistics amongst Māori could be put down to two things – poor nutrition and smoking.

“An unhealthy diet is a major cause of cancer – genetics play a very small part. We can definitely reduce the risks through good nutrition, exercise and by stopping smoking. We now have a deep and broad range of evidence showing a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can and will make a difference.”

Wayne has worked for the Cancer Society for two years and has recently taken up a new role in Rotorua targeting men’s health and increasing the presence of the Cancer Society in Rotorua, Taupo and southern Bay of Plenty.

He says his focus is on Māori and Pacific Island men over the age of 40 who have very high rates of cancer.

“We’ve been running a cancer prevention programme for men on the Tāne Takitu Ake health and wellbeing programme, and I am actively looking to present cancer prevention workshops at marae, businesses and organisations. We also want to get our Sunsmart Programme running in kohanga reo and kura throughout the district.”

Wayne says 21,814 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2012, and that number was expected to rise this year.

“There were 8905 people who died of cancer in 2012 and Māori were at the top of that list. One of the main problems is that our people, and particularly our Māori men, go to the doctors too late and tend to present at a later stage with more advanced tumours. The other major problem is still Māori smoking rates. The latest statistics show eight out of 10 people who develop lung cancer smoke, and unfortunately some non-smokers develop lung cancer by being exposed to second-hand smoke.”

Healthy Families Rotorua manager Leanne Morehu says Māori need to go back to their traditional ways of growing, eating and preserving their own kai in order to stop the current onslaught of cancer, obesity and other chronic diseases destroying whānau.

“Many marae are now growing maara kai and we are looking at ways to ensure our people know how to cook nutritious meals using those vegetables, as well as how to preserve fruits and vegetables so nothing is wasted. Healthy Families Rotorua is wanting to build partnerships between local marae and Māori entities to make this happen.”

For more information on Cooking & Nutrition Workshops, email or call 022 542 6723.

For more information on Cancer Prevention Workshops, email or drop in and see Wayne at the Cancer Society office, 1235 Ranolf Street.

Maori Cancer Statistics
27% more Māori are diagnosed with cancer than non-Māori
Māori are 1.7 times more likely to die from cancer than non-Māori
Māori women have one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world
Māori male death rates are 49% higher than those of non-Māori
Both Māori men and women have one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world
The Lakes District Health Board district is the second highest for cancer diagnosis in New Zealand

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