04 Feb World Cancer Day 2019
Today is world cancer day to bring greater attention, funding and treatment for those suffering from all forms of the disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally after heart disease and many instances of cancer are preventable. Though cancer is a concern for people of all ages the risk of developing the disease increases significantly as we age. Contributing factors and carcinogens have had longer to accumulate within the body of elderly people and the ability for DNA to repair itself also breaks down with age, leading to this increased risk. This does not mean that it is ever too late to make lifestyle changes or try and limit exposure to harmful substances.
Aside from avoiding smoking and excessive drinking maintaining a healthy diet is one of the effective ways to diminish your risk of developing cancer. This can become an issue among the elderly due to the high prevalence of disorders such as dysphagia and a loss of appetite, make eating a struggle. Dysphagia describes the physiological condition in which the swallowing action becomes impaired, potentially resulting in malnutrition. Roughly 60% of the elderly population live with Dysphagia and must have the texture of their food and drinks modified to assist swallowing. In this process, nutritional value can be lost through dilution and over-processing. It can also be challenging to make texture modified foods appetising which can result in loss of appetite due to unpalatability.
The loss of appetite due to medications and associated conditions unfortunately cannot be addressed simply. What can be dealt with however is malnutrition. It is for this purpose that the new International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative(IDDSI) along with fortification is so important. IDDSI clearly defines approaches to the treatment of dysphagia by created global terms of references for thickness and consistency of foods. This not only facilitates international cooperation and resource sharing in the treatment of dysphagia but also helps prevent malnutrition in elderly patients resulting from nutrient deficient and unappetising foods.
You can find out more about World Cancer Day on their website https://www.worldcancerday.org