Cancer is the reason behind 1 in every 6 deaths around the world. The ratio is more than deaths caused by tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria combined. The rate of cancer mortality is very high in the Human Development Index (HDI) countries.
It is estimated that the global burden of cancer cases and deaths is expected to grow to 27.5 million and 16.3 million by 2040, respectively. The major reason behind is the population growth and aging.
Age is known to be the greatest risk factor of cancer initiation. It is found that 60% of people aged 65 or older get cancer. Although, 60% of cancer survivors are also of older age.
Especially, the management or treatment of cancer becomes more difficult in older age if the patient is suffering from comorbid conditions. These are hypertension, heart disease, lung problems, diabetes and arthritis.
However, age is just a factor. Aged people can get over this evocative illness by keeping proper care of health and following cancer treatment.
The first cancer preventive tip for older people is to take care of associated problems which can aggravate cancer development or interfere in cancer treatment. Let’s explore what these problems can be:
The need for nutrition among an older oncology patient can vary in certain conditions. Various factors influence the dietary recommendation of an aged cancer patient. These factors are:
- Cancer stage and related treatment
- Patient’s current nutritional status
- Status of comorbid conditions
- Environmental and social considerations
It is very essential to consider all factors and consult a doctor accordingly regarding proper diet. Otherwise, it has been seen that poor nutritional status and malnutrition show significant associations with worse outcomes for older cancer patients going through active treatment like chemotherapy. Moreover, the pre-existing weight loss issues also increase the risk factor for non-hematologic chemotherapy toxicity.
It is recommended to have high nutritional density foods like vegetables, whole grains, fruits and low dairy products.
Other than this, aim to consume an adequate amount of protein. The deficiency of protein can significantly affect the outcomes of the cancer treatment. Protein is very essential to fight against infections, to maintain muscle mass, heal wounds and get recovered from cancer treatment.
A person needs to have 1.2grams of protein/kg body weight/day. That means, if you are of 70 kg, you need to consume 84 grams of protein every day. Also, try to consume this protein quantity in different meals. Eat only 20 to 30 grams of protein in a meal or 10 to 15 grams of protein in the snack time.
Include the protein foods, which are easy to consume and low in fat. For instance, Legumes and Low fat dairy products.
Another cancer preventive tip for older people is proper treatment and follow-up of comorbid conditions occur with cancer:
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the top four cancers (breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer) found to have higher rates of comorbidity, notably at 32.2%, 52.9%, 30.5% and 40.7%, respectively.
Patients with comorbid conditions often need an increased level of coordination and treatment to manage the disease effectively. These problems not only affect the cancer treatment regimens, but also affect the patient’s well-being, overall health and quality of life in many ways.
Therefore, it is very essential to talk with your healthcare physician about your ongoing medications and disease history. This will help physicians to set your treatment regimen accordingly.
Other than nutrition and co-morbid conditions, physical activity is also one of the essential cancer preventive tips to consider:
Physical activity is a modifiable lifestyle including managing healthy weight and other various physiologic and physiological issues like fatigue, quality of life and cardio-respiratory fitness.
Physical activity and yoga is also associated with lower all-cause mortality, cancer recurrence and risk of death. Other than this, the physical activities are also known to reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes and cardio-respiratory problems.
In 2003, American Cancer Society (ACS) issued the first report for cancer survivors and healthcare regarding physical activities. In 2006, ACS updated the report. In 2009, American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also developed guidelines regarding exercises for cancer survivors. Let’s take a look on physical activity recommendations for cancer prevention:
Guidelines for cancer prevention:
- At least half n hour minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity for 5 days every week above usual activities
- 45–60 minutes of intentional physical activity is preferred
- Daily regular physical activity should be the preferred goal. Therefore steps to move from a sedentary to an active lifestyle should be encouraged.
- Avoid inactivity and sedentary lifestyle. Return to normal active life as soon as possible following diagnosis or treatment.
Perform 150 min/wk of moderate-intensity activity
or 75 min/wk of vigorous-intensity activity or an equivalent combination
○ Activity should be done in bouts of at least 10 minutes in duration and spread throughout the week
○ Exceeding guidelines may provide additional health benefits
○ Perform 2 weekly sessions for all major muscle groups
○ Stretch major muscle groups and tendons on days that other activities are performed
Cancer-specific aerobic activity:
○ Breast, prostate, colon, hematologic (no HSCT), and gynecologic cancer recommendations do not need to be modified
○ HSCT patients:
Participation in activity every day is encouraged at lighter intensity, and lower progression of intensity is recommended.
Care should be taken avoiding over-training given immune effects of vigorous physical activity.
○ Gynecologic cancer:
Cancer-specific resistance training:
○ Recommendations do not need to be modified for prostate, colon, and hematologic cancers.
○ Breast: Start with a supervised program of at least 16 sessions at a very low resistance; progress resistance at small increments.
○ Prostate: Add pelvic floor exercises for those who undergo radical prostatectomy.
○ Colon: For patients with a stoma, start with low resistance and progress slowly to avoid herniation at the stoma.
○ For bone marrow transplant patients, resistance training may be more beneficial than aerobic activity.
Other than these some other cancer preventive tips are avoiding tobacco intake, processed foods, red meat along with limit alcohol consumption.
Follow these cancer preventive tips and improve your quality of life and endurance against cancer even in old age.