Breast Cancer & Liver Cancer
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Liver Cancer: A Global Epidemic
March 16, 2007
A History of Alternative Cancer Cures
March 16, 2007
Guys with Gumption
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
What is a Proton?
March 16, 2007 – Katy Human
Web Exclusive: The Biology of Cancer and Aging
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Web Exclusive: Can Liver Cancer Be Found Early?
March 16, 2007 – The American Cancer Society
Web Exclusive: Protection from Health Fraud
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Help for the Older Patient
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The Emotional Toll
March 16, 2007 – Charlotte Huff
Dangerous Exposure
March 16, 2007 – Jennifer M. Gangloff
An Integrative Plan
March 16, 2007 – Jo Cavallo
Medical Miracle or Spontaneous Remission?
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Resources: Guys with Gumption
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
Clearing the Five-Year Insurance Hurdle
March 16, 2007 – Curtis Pesmen
Making Lemons into Champagne
March 16, 2007 – Kathy LaTour
Heart Health for Childhood Cancer Patients
March 16, 2007 – Jamie Spencer
Targeted Strike
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The National Cancer Institute's CAM Agenda
March 16, 2007 – Jeffrey D. White, MD
Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient
March 16, 2007 – The American Cancer Society
What Really Helps
March 16, 2007 – Lori Hope
The Age Factor
March 16, 2007 – Charlotte Huff
Men Behaving Boldly
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
Liver Cancer: More Cases, More Causes
March 16, 2007 – Jennifer M. Gangloff
Report Incites Controversy After Breast Cancer Decline Linked to HRT Use
March 16, 2007 – Emma Johnson
Prescription for Trouble
March 16, 2007 – Jo Cavallo
What Five Years Really Means
March 16, 2007 – Curtis Pesmen
Hazardous to Your Heart
March 16, 2007 – Jamie Spencer
The Weight Gain Mystery
March 16, 2007 – Noble Sprayberry
Deadly Accuracy
March 16, 2007 – Katy Human
Surfer Wisdom
March 16, 2007 – Mark Lawless
Letters from Our Readers
March 16, 2007
Message from the Editor
March 16, 2007 – Melissa Weber
Having a Ball
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You To Know
March 16, 2007 – Kathy LaTour
www.komen.org
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Stowe, Vermont
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Survivors at Risk for Cognitive Dysfunction
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Q&A: Functional Imaging
March 16, 2007 – Anna D. Barker, PhD
Evista vs. Femara in Breast Cancer
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
New Role for Dempsey; Rest in Peace, Molly
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Patient Congress
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The HPV Debate
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Breast Cancer & Liver Cancer
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Liver Cancer: A Global Epidemic
March 16, 2007
A History of Alternative Cancer Cures
March 16, 2007
Guys with Gumption
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
What is a Proton?
March 16, 2007 – Katy Human
Currently Viewing
Web Exclusive: The Biology of Cancer and Aging
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Web Exclusive: Protection from Health Fraud
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Help for the Older Patient
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The Emotional Toll
March 16, 2007 – Charlotte Huff
Dangerous Exposure
March 16, 2007 – Jennifer M. Gangloff
An Integrative Plan
March 16, 2007 – Jo Cavallo
Medical Miracle or Spontaneous Remission?
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Resources: Guys with Gumption
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
Clearing the Five-Year Insurance Hurdle
March 16, 2007 – Curtis Pesmen
Making Lemons into Champagne
March 16, 2007 – Kathy LaTour
Heart Health for Childhood Cancer Patients
March 16, 2007 – Jamie Spencer
Targeted Strike
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The National Cancer Institute's CAM Agenda
March 16, 2007 – Jeffrey D. White, MD
Physical Activity and the Cancer Patient
March 16, 2007 – The American Cancer Society
What Really Helps
March 16, 2007 – Lori Hope
The Age Factor
March 16, 2007 – Charlotte Huff
Men Behaving Boldly
March 16, 2007 – Marc Silver
Liver Cancer: More Cases, More Causes
March 16, 2007 – Jennifer M. Gangloff
Report Incites Controversy After Breast Cancer Decline Linked to HRT Use
March 16, 2007 – Emma Johnson
Prescription for Trouble
March 16, 2007 – Jo Cavallo
What Five Years Really Means
March 16, 2007 – Curtis Pesmen
Hazardous to Your Heart
March 16, 2007 – Jamie Spencer
The Weight Gain Mystery
March 16, 2007 – Noble Sprayberry
Deadly Accuracy
March 16, 2007 – Katy Human
Surfer Wisdom
March 16, 2007 – Mark Lawless
Letters from Our Readers
March 16, 2007
Message from the Editor
March 16, 2007 – Melissa Weber
Having a Ball
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You To Know
March 16, 2007 – Kathy LaTour
www.komen.org
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Stowe, Vermont
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Survivors at Risk for Cognitive Dysfunction
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Q&A: Functional Imaging
March 16, 2007 – Anna D. Barker, PhD
Evista vs. Femara in Breast Cancer
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
New Role for Dempsey; Rest in Peace, Molly
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
Patient Congress
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington
The HPV Debate
March 16, 2007 – Elizabeth Whittington

Web Exclusive: The Biology of Cancer and Aging

A quick look at how age affects cancer risk and mortality.

BY Elizabeth Whittington
PUBLISHED March 16, 2007

People 65 years or older are 10 times more likely to develop cancer than younger people, and the mortality rate for older cancer patients is 16 times greater than the rate for those under 65. The risk of certain cancers tends to increase with age, and includes breast, prostate and colon cancers. Some cancers are also more aggressive as one gets older, including certain types of leukemia and lymphomas, while others, such as breast and prostate cancers, are slower growing. 

Several studies are examining the correlation between aging and cancer. One preclinical study found that the lack of a specific gene responsible for repairing damaged DNA can cause the body to age, possibly prematurely. Scientists responsible for the mouse study say the findings weren’t unexpected since DNA damage is known to cause cancer. DNA can be damaged by stress on the body, carcinogens or just the wear-and-tear of constant cell growth and death, and without functioning DNA repair genes, the damage can lead to cancer.

Scientists say the accumulation of DNA damage causes typical aging characteristics, but how we respond to that damage is mostly determined by genes, including those responsible for growth hormone pathways, which contribute to cell growth and development. As we get older, those hormone levels go down, contributing to decreased muscle mass and bone density, resulting in sarcopenia, osteoporosis and increased bone breaks. Other factors that contribute to aging and cancer risk are environmental factors and lifestyle habits, such as choosing not to smoke or eating a healthy diet.

Another theory is that healthy cells do not infinitely divide and replicate. Most adult cells are believed to have a set number of times it can divide (between 50 to 70 times), and regions of DNA called telomeres located on the ends of chromosomes get progressively shorter after each replication. (Young cells have an enzyme called telomerase that prevents telomeres from becoming shorter for several cycles). Once the telomeres become “too short,” the cell stops dividing. The shortened telomeres have also been associated with cancer and increased risk of death. When a cell becomes pre-cancerous, it may divide quickly, and consequently its telomeres become shorter. When it becomes a cancer cell, it activates the telomerase enzyme to prevent the telomere from becoming any shorter. Research has found shortened telomeres in many cancers, including pancreatic, prostate, bladder and lung cancers. 

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