9 Steps that Can Canadian Seniors Help with Cancer Prevention

Did you know that about half of all cancers can be prevented? It’s My Life! is an interactive, evidence-based tool on the Canadian Cancer website that teaches you how 10 lifestyle factors can affect your risk of getting cancer and what you can do to prevent it http://itsmylife.cancer.ca/

The most significant risk factor for the development of cancer is aging; however, the risk of many types of cancer can be drastically reduced by focusing on prevention steps. Several factors play a role in cancer development, such as heredity, but many can be voluntarily avoided.

1. Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to smoke.

Smoking is the most significant cancer risk factor. It is to blame for lung, and many other types of cancer. The best way to help prevent cancer is to quit smoking or never start. As soon as you quit, the body positively responds ─ so it’s never too late.

Avoiding secondhand smoke also helps to prevent cancer, because this smoke contains more than 60 known carcinogens. These carcinogens
interrupt normal cell development, a catalyst for cancer development.

2. Stay safe in the sun and watch for skin changes.

Each year, over one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer. It is the most common cancer and accounts for about half of all cancer diagnoses, yet it’s one of the most preventable types of cancer. Reduce UV ray exposure by wearing sunscreen and protective clothing, and avoiding the mid-day sun and tanning beds.

3. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables greatly reduces the risk of developing cancer and many other conditions. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which help repair our damaged cells. Green, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables are your best bet to help prevent cancer. Studies also show that dark fruits, like blueberries and grapes, may also have anti-cancer properties. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are particularly helpful, according to numerous studies.

4. Limit red meat and animal fat.

A diet high in animal fat increases the risk for several types of cancer, particularly colon cancer. Red meat contains much more fat than poultry and fish, so reducing the amount of red meat in your diet may help to prevent cancer. A diet high in fat also is a major cause of obesity, which is another risk factor for many types of cancer.

5. Limit alcohol intake.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly increases the risk for many kinds of cancer. Studies suggest that men who consume two alcoholic drinks per day and women who have one alcoholic drink per day can significantly increase their risk factors for certain types of cancer.

6. Exercise.

When you exercise, you are reducing your risk for many types of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends exercising 30 or more minutes, at least 5 days a week for cancer prevention. Always check with your physician before embarking on any exercise program.

7. Know your environment.

Exposure to chemicals may increase the risk of developing many types of cancer, including kidney cancer and bladder cancer. If you are exposed to fumes, dust, chemicals, and the like, you may want to look into ways to reduce or eliminate your exposure. Gasoline, diesel exhaust, arsenic, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, and chloromethyl ethers are all dangerous carcinogens.

8. Be familiar with your personal and family medical history.

Cancers such as breast, colon, ovarian, and other types can be hereditary. If certain cancers run in your family, tell your doctor so that he or she can recommend the right screenings and assess your true risk. Genetic testing and counseling may be encouraged based on a family’s medical history.

9. Get regular cancer screens.

Cancer screening tests can be useful in detecting cancer ─ and preventing it. The colonoscopy and Pap smear can detect abnormal cellular changes before they turn cancerous. The key to their effectiveness is that they are done regularly. Other tests may be useful for early detection, but not necessarily cancer prevention. It is common to have prostate cancer screening through digital rectal exams, and prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests can help detect prostate cancer early. Mammograms and other imaging tools are also recommended to detect breast cancer, and the survival rate continues to grow.

Comfort Keepers® can help. Comfort Keepers®’ Interactive Caregiving™ keeps senior clients engaged physically, mentally, and emotionally while living independently at home. Caregivers can also help support a healthier diet and lifestyle for your loved one. Call your local office today to find out more.


  • National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Preventive Cancer Care for the Elderly”. Web. 2015.
  • LifestyleOptions.com. “Cancer Care in the Elderly”. Web. 2015.
  • American Cancer Society. “Prevention Studies for a Cancer-Free Tomorrow”. Web 2015.
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States”. Web. 2014.

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