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When it comes to diseases, nearly half of boomers polled worry most about cancer. The second-leading killer, cancer does become more common with aging.
"It's the unknown nature, that it can come up without warning," says Harry Forsha, 64, of Clearwater, Fla., and Mill Spring, N.C.
Heart disease is the nation's No. 1 killer, but it's third in line on the boomers' worry list. Memory loss is a bigger concern.
"On a scale of one to 10, seven or eight," is how Barry Harding, 61, of Glen Burnie, Md., puts it. "It's more talked about now, Alzheimer's and dementia."
In fact, more than half of boomers polled say they regularly do mental exercises such as crossword puzzles.
After Harding retires, he plans to take classes to keep mentally active. For now, he's doing the physical exercise that's important for brain health, too. He also takes fish oil, a type of fatty acid that some studies suggest might help prevent mental decline.
In Warren, Pa., Colleen Witmer says she works hard to maintain her weight and her health: The 52-year-old walks or rides her bike daily, plus does a more formal exercise program three or four times a week.
"I maintain my annual visits to the doctor's office and follow his advice whether I like it or not," she says. "And I refuse to admit I am my age, and keep going as if I weren't."
The AP-LifeGoesStrong.com poll was conducted from June 3-12 by Knowledge Networks of Menlo Park, Calif., and involved online interviews with 1,416 adults, including 1,078 baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964. The margin of sampling error for results from the full sample is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points; for the boomers, it is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Knowledge Networks used traditional telephone and mail sampling methods to randomly recruit respondents. People selected who had no Internet access were given it free.
AP writer Stacy A. Anderson, AP Polling Director Trevor Tompson, Deputy Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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