Some people fear aging because of a myriad of reasons. Acquiring wrinkles and age spots, sagging skin, and drooping breasts are among the most dreaded concerns. However, beneath the surface is a more pressing issue. Advancing age, above all, is the most significant risk factor for cancer development — something which seniors cannot escape no matter how many plastic surgeries and dermal fillers they get.
Thankfully, although aging is an irreversible and inevitable part of life, older adults may reduce their cancer risks by focusing on scientifically-proven preventive measures.
How to Reduce Cancer Risks Among Senior Citizens
Various factors play a role in cancer development. If you are in your 60s (or approaching this age), you may minimize your chances by following these precautions.
1. Do not use tobacco products and avoid exposure to smoke.
Smoking is a leading contributor to cancer occurrence. According to the American Lung Association, men who smoke are 23 times more susceptible to lung cancer, while women are 13 times more prone compared to those who never smoked. Using tobacco products and exposure to secondhand smoke are also associated with an increased risk for cancer of the oral cavity, liver, kidneys, and many other malignancies.
Today, there are 69 known carcinogens in tobacco smoke. Thus, one of the most doctor-approved ways to prevent cancer is to stop smoking. As soon as you quit, the body responds positively, meaning it is never too late to give up this life-threatening habit. If you do not smoke, never start at all and avoid secondhand exposure.
2. Protect yourself from the sun and watch for skin changes.
Each day, about 9,500 Americans receive a skin cancer diagnosis. It is the most common cancer, accounting for approximately half of all cancer diagnoses in the country.
The likelihood of skin cancer rises with old age because the body loses its ability to replace worn-out cells with new ones.
Still, skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of malignant disease. Reducing your exposure to harmful UV rays is vital. As always, wearing sunscreen and reapplying every two hours is crucial. Read 5 Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer (Other Than Sunscreen) to learn more.
3. Get your daily serving of healthy fruits and vegetables.
— A constant in any article about cancer prevention. While you may be tired of hearing it, adding a colorful array of fruits and vegetables into your diet dramatically reduces your risk of developing cancer and several other conditions.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which help repair damaged cells. Orange, yellow, and green fruits and vegetables are your defense against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts are particularly helpful, according to medical studies. Blueberries and other dark fruits may also have anti-cancer properties.
No matter your age, know what to eat by reading 12 Foods That May Help Reduce Cancer Risks and Top 10 Anti-Cancer Foods You Need to Add to Your Diet.
4. Lessen your alcohol intake.
UCLA professor Dr. Alison Moore claims that about 10 to 15 percent of people start drinking heavily during older age. As a result, alcohol-related emergencies among the elderly reached almost three-quarters of a million in 2012.
Consuming excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages, especially on a daily basis, increases your risk for many types of cancer. In fact, several studies assert that men who drink two alcoholic drinks per day and women who have one alcoholic beverage a day can drastically raise their risk for cancers of the mouth, voice box, liver, and more.
5. Reduce your consumption of red meat and animal fat.
Higher intakes of red meat have been associated with a multitude of health problems, including colon cancer and type 2 diabetes in seniors. Moreover, a diet high in animal fat boosts the risk for several types of cancer, including of the breast and pancreas.
Red meat has greater concentrations of fat than poultry and fish. As such, the sooner you limit or eliminate red meat from your diet, the more you can protect your health. Also, keep in mind that a diet high in fat can cause obesity, which is a significant risk factor for many cancer types.
6. Stop being a couch potato.
The dangers of living a sedentary lifestyle are countless. But when you partake in physical activities — may it be swimming or as simple as walking — you are minimizing your risk for many malignant diseases and health hazards. The American Cancer Society recommends exercising five days a week for at least 30 minutes. However, consult your physician before embarking on any new exercise program.
7. Know your personal and family medical history.
Certain cancers, such as those of the breast, ovaries, and colon, can sometimes be hereditary. If cancer runs in your family, discuss it with your doctor to determine your real risk. He or she may recommend genetic testing and counseling based on your blood relatives’ medical history.
Check out the article Genetic Disorders That Increase Cancer Risks to learn more about hereditary syndromes.
8. Understand your environment and the threats it may pose to your health.
Exposure to chemicals may elevate your chances of developing many types of malignancies, including kidney and bladder cancer. Therefore, if your environment exposes you to fumes, dust, and the like — health experts encourage you to eliminate your vulnerability. Gasoline, radon, arsenic, beryllium, nickel chromates, coal products, vinyl chloride, chloromethyl ethers, and mustard gas are all dangerous carcinogens, among plenty of others.
9. Schedule regular cancer screenings with your doctor.
Cancer screening tests are essential for detecting cancer as well as preventing it. For example, a Pap smear and colonoscopy can identify abnormal cellular changes before they become cancerous.
Other tests may be helpful for early cancer detection, which is indispensable for improving your life expectancy, but does not necessarily foster prevention. It is common to undergo prostate cancer screening through digital rectal exams, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests can aid in diagnosing prostate cancer early. MRI scans, mammograms, and other imaging tests are also recommended to catch breast cancer, evident in growing survival rates.
Quitting smoking, avoiding unprotected sun exposure, favoring a nutrient-dense diet, weight management, and others mentioned in this article are expert-approved ways to reduce cancer risk among the elderly. These lifestyle changes improve overall health comprehensively, which preserves strength and immune system functions as adults enter their 60s, 70s, and beyond.
In case of a cancer diagnosis, allow New Hope Unlimited to expand your treatment options. We are a leading provider of alternative cancer treatments for over 200 cancer types. To schedule a consultation, contact our office by calling 480-666-1403.