Earlier this year, an analysis by the American Cancer Society revealed that between 2016 and 2017 — the latest study year — the cancer death rate dropped by 2.2%. That’s the largest single-year drop ever. The decline in deaths is thanks in large part to declining lung cancer mortality, which is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Melanoma death rates also dropped by 7%, due to new drugs, which improved the five-year survival rate to 92%.
While this is undeniably good news, cancer is still a real health threat — especially to seniors. The report points out that this research only examines trends rather than the actual number of cases and deaths. Because cancer is primarily a disease of older people, the absolute number of deaths related to the disease continues growing as the country’s population ages. Statistics underscore this point showing that “sixty percent of new cancer diagnoses are made in adults aged 65 and older, and 70% of cancer deaths occur in this population.” Researchers also predict a 67% increase in cancer incidence among individuals aged 65 and older from 2010 to 2030.”
Cancer Prevention Tips
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. A person’s lifestyle has a significant impact on their lifelong cancer risk. In fact, “scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that up to 75% of American cancer deaths can be prevented.” So during National Cancer Prevention Month, we want to offer these tips that will help you reduce your risk and live a longer, healthier life.
A strong, healthy body is the first line of defense against cancer. So, to reduce your risk, make the following lifestyle changes:
- Avoid Tobacco: Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke are major risk factors for lung cancer. So, if you smoke, stop right away. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Consuming red meat and high levels of saturated fats may increase your risk of colon and some forms of prostate cancer. Instead, eat diets filled with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Exercise Regularly: Physical activity is linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. In addition, women who exercise are at a decreased risk for breast and reproductive cancers.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is a risk factor for many kinds of cancer. To reduce your risk, maintain a healthy weight with a focus on diet and exercise.
- Reduce Alcohol Consumption: Excess alcohol use increases your risk of developing mouth, larynx, esophagus, liver, and colon cancers. It also raises a women’s breast cancer risk. If you do choose to drink, limit your consumption to one drink per day.
- Avoid Certain Infections: Some infections, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and human papillomavirus, can lead to cancer.
- Take a Vitamin D Supplement: Research suggests that 800 to 1,000 IU a day of vitamin D may reduce your risk of prostate, colon, and other cancers.
Certain environmental factors can increase your risk. Avoid exposure to these substances whenever possible:
- Radiation Exposure: Radiation builds up in your body, and exposure to too much radiation is a significant risk factor. As a result, you should avoid radiation exposure whenever possible. That includes limiting medical imaging only when necessary, testing your home for radon gas, and protecting yourself against UV radiation from the sun.
- Exposure to Industrial and Environmental Toxins: Substances like asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are known carcinogens.
Early Cancer Detection is Key
Of course, cancer can still strike even the healthiest people. However, detecting cancer early is your best survival strategy. If you experience any of the following symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.
- Change in bowel or bladder habits.
- A sore that does not heal.
- Unusual bleeding or discharge.
- Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere.
- Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
- A noticeable change in a wart or mole.
- Nagging cough or hoarseness.
There is no cure for cancer yet. However, through lifestyle changes, vigilance, and new treatment options, more people are surviving their diagnosis than ever before. That alone is a reason for celebration.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.