It's Older Americans Month: Test Your Healthy Aging IQ

older couple with a birthday present A new AICR survey of Americans ages 50 and older found that only slightly more than half are aware that cancer is preventable. How do you match up to those surveyed?

Americans are now living longer than ever before and today, the focus has shifted from just aging to healthy aging – which means fending off chronic diseases such as cancer. With National Senior Health & Fitness Day on May 25, this is a timely opportunity to learn more about how older Americans can prevent cancer or cancer recurrence.

How much do you know about aging and cancer – take our brief quiz and find out.

True False
Physical activity can lower my cancer risk.
Starting this year, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning age 65 every day.
Eating healthy can lower my cancer risk.
Research shows I can make lifestyle choices to reduce my cancer risk only up to age 70 (on average).
My cancer risk is mathematically the same at age 25 and age 65.
Approximately three-quarters (72%) of 65 to 74 year olds get some form of regular physical activity.
Obese people ages 65+ can improve their strength, balance, and mobility using similar recommendations to those of cancer prevention a combination of weight loss and exercise.

    Your Score


1. True. 80% of survey respondents agreed with this statement. Physical activity reduces cancer risk by helping us stay a healthy weight and providing physiological benefits. Studies suggest that regular activity plays a role in healthy hormone levels, strengthening our immune system, and keeping our digestive system healthy.

AICR recommends at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity to reduce cancer risk.

2. True. Starting this year, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning age 65 every day. By 2030, Americans age 65 and older will reach almost 20% of the U.S. population – equaling approximately 78 million people.

3. True. 91% of survey respondents agreed with this statement. Research shows that vegetables and fruits probably protect against a range of cancers, including mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, lung, pancreas and prostate..

AICR recommends filling your plate with two-thirds (or more) fruits, vegetables, and beans, using the other third (or less) for animal proteins, such as chicken or fish.

4. False. Overall, three-quarters of survey respondents knew this was false but that number decreased significantly with people over the age of 70.

A large body of research suggests that making healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce our risk for cancer – along with other chronic diseases – at all ages.

5. False. About two-thirds of survey respondents knew cancer risk increases with age, but that figure dropped to less than half among respondents over 70 years old.

Although people of all ages develop cancer, aging is the number one risk factor for cancer. Nearly 4 in 5 cancers are diagnosed after age 55 and by age 65, a person's cancer risk is 10 times that of younger people.

6. False. According to a government report released last year, (Health Behaviors of Adults: United States, 2005‐2007) only a quarter of 65 to 74 year olds report they are regularly physically active; almost half (48%) report they are inactive.

7. True. This is according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study randomly split approximately 100 obese people ages 65 and over into one of four groups: diet-focused; exercise-focused; diet and exercise; or a group without any intervention (the comparison group) After one year, it was the diet-exercise participants who improved their physical ability the most, compared to the other groups. Physical ability was measured by a range of tests, including stair climbing, standing up from a chair.

How did you do?

1-3 Correct:

Your healthy aging and cancer prevention IQ can stand to be improved. Visit AICR's It's Never Too Late to Lower Your Risk to learn more about how we can age healthfully and prevent cancer – along with other diseases – information and strategies on preventing cancer for anyone ages 50 and older.

4-5 Correct:

Pretty good IQ. There's plenty of strategies and tips on preventing cancer for anyone ages 50 and older on AICR's NtL site.

6-7 Correct:

Excellent IQ rating. Visit the It's Never Too Late campaign for the latest news and stories on healthy aging and cancer prevention.

If you want to join in the 18th annual national senior day on May 25, visit to see what events are held in your area.

The survey is the result of new research commissioned by AICR, which finds limited understanding among older Americans of the link between age and increased cancer risk. The telephone survey involved 653 Americans aged 50 and older and was conducted in April 2011.


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