When you think of cancer, you most likely think of your grandfather suffering from colon cancer, or an elderly woman suffering from lung cancer. With some exceptions, cancer, in many people’s minds, is associated with old age. While cancer can occur in anyone at any age, this is actually not far from the truth. Around 50 percent of all cancer cases are reported in people over the age of 66. A heightening of cancer risk begins at age 50 and steadily increases as we get older.
This is a question that doctors and researchers have been trying to answer for decades. You can’t argue with the evidence that a huge portion of cancer sufferers are seniors, but it isn’t always so easy to say why this is. There are two main theories out there that can help to explain it, although both still require further research in order to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The first theory is relatively simple. The longer we are alive, the more exposure we have to carcinogens. These carcinogens are present in the air, in cigarette smoke, in foods, in sunlight – many things that most of us don’t even really think about. In addition to this, mutations sometimes occur in the cells of our body. They happen when the information is being copied to make new cells, and the information is copied incorrectly due to a random error. The longer we live, the more mutations build up in our bodies, and it is these mutations that can cause cancer.
The second theory (which can work in tandem with the first), is that as we age, our bodies become more hospitable to cancer. With things like a weakened immune system, changes in organ tissues, chronic inflammation, and a lowered ability to repair DNA inside the cells, cancer has a better chance of developing and growing. If the body is not able to fight off the cancer cells, they can grow and increase exponentially, sometimes unbeknownst to the person they are inhabiting.
No matter what causes the link between cancer and old age, you don’t have to just assume that someone will get cancer because they are older.
You and your senior care aide can help your loved one to stay healthy by making sure that their chronic conditions (especially ones involving inflammation) are being properly treated. You should also make sure that they are eating properly, and stay active. A healthy body is less likely to become a home for cancer, so make that your loved one’s goal.
Medical checkups are also a great way to stay on the front lines of the fight against cancer. Regular prostate and breast cancer screenings are a must, and any symptoms your loved one has should be checked out as soon as possible. Even if one does have cancer, the earlier it is detected, the better. Remember that just a few simple lifestyle changes can help to prevent or stop cancer, no matter how old your loved one is.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in Laguna Beach CA, please contact the caring staff at Canaan Home Care today!