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FOR RELEASE: September 17, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams

September is Healthy Aging Month

The United States is on the brink of a longevity revolution. By 2030, the number of older Americans will have more than doubled to 70 million, or one in every five Americans. While the risk of disability and disease increases with age, it is not an absolute consequence of aging.

Preventive measures such as healthy lifestyle choices and scheduled screenings can go a long way toward helping individuals enjoy a full and happy life. Healthy lifestyle choices include eating a diet that is high-fiber, low in fat, and rich in fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week, limit their alcohol intake, maintain a healthy weight, and not smoke.

Colorectal Cancer screenings are recommended for men and women aged 50 years and over. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Getting plenty of physical activity and eating a high-fiber, low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent against colorectal cancer.

Type 2 Diabetes affects 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes and most often appears after age 40. One in five adults over age 65 has diabetes. Better nutrition, physical activity, control of blood glucose levels, and access to services can delay the progression of diabetes. In fact, recent findings show that modest, consistent physical activity and a healthy diet can cut a person’s risk for developing Type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent.

High Blood Pressure tends to increase with age; however, prevention is possible through lifestyle modification, which includes eating fruits and vegetables, being physically active, limiting alcohol intake, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.

Osteoporosis risk increases with age and affects both men and women. It is recommended that individuals over the age of 50 get 1200 mg of calcium per day as well as incorporate weight-bearing exercise (walking, jogging, etc.) for 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Skin Cancer (often melanoma) while deadly, can be cured in most cases with early detection followed by surgical removal. Have moles and pigmented spots checked yearly by a dermatologist. Do a self-exam on a monthly basis. Look for the ABCDs of skin cancer: Asymmetry in a mole, Borders that are irregular, Color that is varied and/or a Diameter larger than the head of a pencil eraser. If any one or more of these signs are present, see a dermatologist immediately.

Mammography is the best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage (on an average of one to three years before the woman can feel the lump). Women 40 years of age and older should have routine mammograms every one to two years.

Prostate Cancer risk increases with age, beginning at age 50. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend routine screening for prostate cancer, it does support a man’s right to discuss the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening and treatment with his doctor as well as his right to make his own decision about screening.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has materials available to assist local health departments, community organizations and businesses in promoting Healthy Aging Month. To obtain these materials or for more information, call the Chronic Disease Service at 405/271-4072.


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