Age is the single greatest risk factor for cancer, both globally and within specific cancer types.
Fortunately, there are numerous methods to reduce your risks as you age that don’t take a lot of time or energy.
For example, quitting smoking can significantly reduce your risk of cancer and enhance quality of life. Routine screenings also help detect cancer at an earlier stage when treatment is most successful.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
If you want to reduce your risk of cancer as you age, eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly are essential. Doing this can help you prevent many health issues and lower the likelihood of cancers such as breast, prostate, colorectal and endometrial.
A healthy diet consists of eating a variety of nutritious foods that are low in calories, fat and sodium but high in fiber and other essential nutrients. This includes fruits and vegetables as well as lean meats, poultry, beans or other sources of lean protein such as nuts or seeds as well as low-fat dairy products.
It is also recommended to limit your intake of added sugars, sodium, saturated fats and industrially-produced trans fats. You can do this by decreasing the amount of processed and refined foods you consume.
Eating nutritious and health foods such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken or meats, and unsweetened beverages is essential for a balanced diet. These items contain essential vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients that can help combat diseases like cancer.
Another effective strategy is to incorporate more plant-based foods such as beans, lentils, peas and tofu into your meals. These nutrient-rich alternatives can be an excellent substitute for meat while helping you cut back on saturated and trans fats that may increase cancer risks.
You can reap the benefits of a nutritious diet by drinking plenty of water and eating smaller meals more frequently. Eating smaller portions is an effective way to maintain your metabolism, leading to greater caloric burn throughout the day.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercising regularly can help to lower your cancer risk as you age, as it improves fitness and strengthens the immune system. Not only that, but exercise also increases energy levels and prevents diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which in turn may reduce the risk of cancer. Studies have linked maintaining a healthy weight with regular physical activity to a reduced likelihood of at least 13 types of cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week (or a combination thereof). This should be spread out over the course of the week for optimal benefits.
Exercising can not only lift your mood, but it can also improve cognitive functioning. Exercising improves blood flow to the brain and increases energy levels – leading to improvements in memory and learning.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine can be challenging, particularly if you have poor health or an active lifestyle. But it is essential to stay committed; research suggests that after several weeks of consistent workouts, it becomes an habit and easier to stick with.
Exercise can be highly beneficial for reducing your cancer risk, such as walking, swimming, dancing and jogging. But be sure not to overexert yourself; if you are new to exercising, start with short sessions and gradually increase the time invested; this way you won’t become bored or frustrated with the routine.
3. Get Vaccinated
Vaccines can reduce your risk of getting cancer by teaching your immune system how to detect and fight diseases. They are one of the most reliable ways to keep your body healthy, both before an illness strikes as well as during it.
If you want to protect your child, yourself or someone you care about, vaccination is the first step. Unfortunately, some of these diseases can be fatal or have long-lasting effects such as hearing loss and learning disabilities.
If you or someone close to you is uncertain whether or not vaccination is beneficial, speak with your doctor. They can explain the advantages of vaccination and assist in deciding if it’s the best decision for you.
There are various vaccines, each designed to teach your immune system how to respond to specific germs. These include live-attenuated, inactivated, subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide vaccines as well as those that use toxins or proteins from germs.
These vaccines provide your body with a powerful and long-lasting immunity against diseases. However, some individuals may require more than one dose (a booster shot) in order to fully build up their protection.
Once you receive a vaccine, your immune system is taught how to fight off viruses or bacteria that cause disease. This memory will protect you in case of future exposure with these germs.
Vaccines have saved millions of lives over the years. They have virtually eliminated or greatly reduced many diseases that once claimed thousands of lives, such as polio and smallpox. Furthermore, vaccines protect pregnant women and children from potentially hazardous illnesses, decreasing the risk of birth defects.
4. Get Regular Screenings
To reduce your cancer risk as you age, it’s essential to receive regular screenings and tests. Early detection of diseases and illnesses allows for more effective treatments and higher survival rates.
For instance, a routine mammogram can detect breast cancer at an earlier stage when it has the best chance for successful treatment. Additionally, it helps identify other health issues that could pose problems later in life.
A Pap test can detect abnormal cells in the cervix that could develop into cervical cancer, while an HPV test checks for viruses responsible for this. Both tests are recommended for women over 50.
Your healthcare provider will determine which tests are appropriate for you based on factors such as age, gender, family history and more. For instance, if there is a strong family history of heart disease in your family, they may suggest getting more frequent cholesterol checks and blood pressure checks.
Your healthcare provider may suggest lung cancer screenings for heavy smokers. A low-dose helical computed tomography (CT) scan has been found to reduce the risk of death from lung cancer in some individuals.
Many of these screenings are easy to take and can help you live a longer, healthier life.
Regular testing is the best way to ensure your health stays optimal. Testing blood and other body fluids regularly can also detect any issues early, so they can be addressed before becoming worse.
5. Stop Smoking
As you age, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk for cancer. One of the most effective is quitting smoking; smoking is one of the most hazardous habits one can engage in and leads to many serious health complications – including cancer.
Quitting smoking can have many positive effects on your health, and it’s never too late to make the switch. Consult your doctor about the best method of quitting for you – including medication and behavioral modifications.
Once you quit smoking, your body begins to experience major benefits. Your heart rate and blood pressure will decrease significantly, the carbon monoxide level in your blood will return to normal, you’ll experience increased energy levels, your lungs will begin clearing mucus buildup and senses of smell and taste will be sharpened.
Within six months of quitting smoking, your risk for developing cancer will be half that of when you smoked. Furthermore, you are less likely to have a stroke as well.
By quitting smoking, you’ll reduce your medical costs and the money spent on cigarettes. Furthermore, being more social will give you a higher quality of life overall.
Quitting smoking can be challenging, but the sooner you do so, the greater the rewards. Your lung function will improve, your heart rate and blood pressure will slow down, giving you more energy to tackle whatever comes your way.
Smoking increases your risk for many types of cancer, but is especially hazardous for women who smoke during pregnancy. Not only can smoking lead to premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage or stillbirth, but it may also result in preemies being born prematurely or with low birth weight.