This year will see an unprecedented surge in the number of Americans becoming eligible for Medicare, as the leading edge of the baby boom generation begins to turn 65. Today, about 1 in 10 Americans are 65 and older; by the year 2030, according to the Alliance for Aging Research, that number will climb to 1 in 5.
Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) said today that these statistics paint a grim picture, because aging is the number one risk factor for cancer, and as the U.S. population grows older, cancer incidence – and the costs associated with it – are expected to soar.
The cancer experts noted, however, that much of the cost, loss and suffering of cancer doesn’t have to happen. They pointed to encouraging scientific evidence that many cancers can be delayed or even prevented through a good balance of “self-protection” which includes regular physical activity and a plant-based diet.
This is good news for many Americans who feel helpless about their personal cancer risk as they grow older. A survey commissioned by AICR shows that, among Americans over 50, awareness that many cancers are preventable is low, and feelings of powerlessness in the face of cancer increase steadily as age increases. This is why AICR has launched a new campaign, It’s Never Too Late to Lower Your Risk, aimed at raising awareness among Americans over 50 and encouraging them to eat smart and move more.
“Moving more doesn’t mean running marathons – it means getting off the couch. Because when it comes to cancer, inactivity is the enemy,” said AICR’s Bender. “Eating smart doesn’t mean becoming a vegetarian. It means learning how to shift the focus of meals off of meat and onto vegetables, whole grains, beans and fruit.”