If I told you that by the time you turn 65 years your chance of having contracted some form of cancer is one in two, or the same odds as flipping a coin and coming up tails, you would probably say “That can’t be right… Can it?”
Unfortunately, those ARE the odds you are faced with. For some of us the odds are better, for others it is worse.
This begs the next question: “What can I do to change my PERSONAL odds of getting cancer?”
As it turns out, that is an excellent question. Because when it comes to cancer we DO have a say in how it might affect us in the years ahead. This is because a good fraction of the risk we assume in getting cancer is due to what we DO over the course of our lives.
This is to say that you are NOT born with a one in two chance of getting cancer by the time we retire.
No. Those odds are new. A century ago most people who lived to old age would die of slow age-related organ shut down. Heart attacks were rare, as was cancer. It happened. Just not in the numbers that affect us today.
The reason for the modern day epidemic of cancer?
Poor health. We are the most overweight, least fit segment of the human race that has ever lived. As a consequence, our general health has plummeted and we are paying for it.
You can find out your own personal odds of getting cancer by taking this quick 2-minute Cancer Risk Quiz, set up by Carolyn Hansen:
Answer the dozen or so questions and see how you fare. The score will come back as a number between 0 (great expectations for a long life) and 10 (time to get your affairs in order).
Yes, it may be sobering to discover that you are an EIGHT on the scale and slated for an early departure. But it is not all bad news. Because a good deal of that risk is behavior-based. Changing your bad habits CAN improve your odds of living until a ripe old age.
The question then, I guess, is how bad do you want to live long enough to see your grandchildren have children themselves?
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