Yes, October means seeing pink ribbons everywhere, reminding us all about the importance of getting screened for breast cancer and finding a cure. But we all know that there are so many cancers out there that can impact our senior loved ones. Thankfully, the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control has revealed ways to reduce cancer risk during older adulthood. By pulling experts from many different fields, the CDC has shown the importance of working together to find effective ways to prevent cancer. One startling fact: more than two-thirds of all new cancers are diagnosed among adults aged 60 years and older. As the number of adults living to older ages continues to increase, it follows that the number of new cancer cases will too. For example, in 2015, more than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer and that number could reach 2.1 million by 2030 unless we do more.
Over time, cancer is caused by many factors so, even later in life, there will be opportunities to prevent or delay the onset of new cancers. Research suggests that we can do more to reduce cancer risk and preserve health as adults enter their 60s, 70s and beyond. To lower the risk of cancer later in life, we need to reduce exposure to known causes of cancer in our homes, workplaces, and communities. We also need to promote social and physical environments that facilitate healthy behaviors like sun safety, physical activity, and meaningful social engagement. Finally, we need to expand the appropriate use of cancer screening tests and other preventive health services at older ages. Maintaining a healthy weight and practicing good nutrition is an important part of cancer prevention. It may be helpful to have friends or family bring healthy meals regularly and stock the pantry with wholesome foods.