Imagine being able to live forever, or at least to live to 100. Imagine the limitless time, and all that could be accomplished. If you’ve ever read the book or seen the film Tuck Everlasting, then you’re familiar with the notion of what limitless time could mean. In this story, a family discovers a spring that offers eternity upon drinking its water—and then no harm can come. No illness can ravage their lives; there is no cancer that can manifest and destroy. But that was an imagined world, because in reality, there is no way around the fact that we age and that cancer exists.
But, why do we age? And, why does cancer creep in, especially in those who are older? It’s a fact that cancer risk increases with age, and there are studies that give plausible reasons for this. Our body tissue changes over time: skin wrinkles, age spots appear, and so on. The mechanisms that exist in young bodies to stave off illness and disease, like cancer, begin to deteriorate as we age. Healthy cells can only function when the condition of their landscape—body tissue—is also healthy. When the tissue ages, the landscape is altered and the cells can no longer function in their young and healthy ways. In a sense, it becomes a little like trying to put a squared shape into a circle—it won’t fit. These are often the breeding grounds for cancer cells.
Cancer is a tricky thing, because it can develop in even the healthiest person. But there are some things you can do to help lower your cancer risk. Here are some useful tips to stay cancer-free and maybe even live to 100. Think of them as rules to live by.
- Stop smoking; smoking is linked to cancer in the lungs, bladder, pancreas, kidney, stomach, colon, throat, and mouth. Among U.S. women who die from lung cancer, 80% of the deaths are the result of smoking.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure, and apply adequate sunscreen. Sun-damaged skin is one of the leading causes of skin cancer.
- Eat a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Nutrients in these types of food have proven to help fight cancer.
- Regular exercise, and a healthy body weight, has been shown to help prevent cancer, but also help cancer survivors recover faster.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, as it is associated with an increased risk for several different types of cancer.
- Continue regular cancer screenings, especially as you get older, and ask your doctor about immunizations for certain viruses. Early detection can mean the difference between life and death.
Living a healthy lifestyle will not only keep you cancer free, but it puts the reins back in your hands so that you have more control over how well you age. Living to 100 isn’t an imaginary idea anymore. With the right measures, there’s no telling what you can do.
“Smoking,” National Cancer Institute web site; https://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/tobacco/smoking, last accessed May 22, 2013.