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News2015May › The myth of cancer as a disease of old age › May 2015

The myth of cancer as a disease of old age

Cancer is seen as a disease of old age, and doctors reckon the rise in the number of cases is the result of us living longer

Cancer is seen as a disease of old age, and doctors reckon the rise in the number of cases is the result of us living longer. But reach the age of 80, and that all changes: after that, you're more likely to die from heart disease or infection.

In fact, cancer is one of the least common causes of death among the over-80s, according to a study of 855 men born in 1913. Of these, 232-or 27 per cent of the total-reached their 80th birthday, and 111 of these celebrated their 90th birthday; 10 went on to reach a century.

Cardiovascular disease was responsible for 42 per cent of the deaths in the over-80s, and a further 20 per cent were caused by an infectious disease. But cancer was responsible for just 8 per cent of the deaths, say researchers from Sahlgrenska Academy.

As to any secrets to longevity, the researchers were less helpful. Don't smoke, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and drink no more than four cups of coffee a day seems to be it.

(Source: Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal, 2015; 49(1): doi: 10.3109/14017431.2015.1009940)


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