Conventional wisdom says that cancer in the elderly is caused by the accumulation of cancer-causing mutations. But a new study says it’s actually changing tissue features that cause an uptick in cancer rates in old age.

Researchers argue that by our late teens, we’ve already accumulated a big chunk of the mutations we will over the course of our lives—a stat that’s out of step with cancer rates, which increase most in old age. What does change is the ability to fight off these mutations—and cancer. Despite this reality, there are still little things you can do to lower your risk of cancer, such as eating broccoli and parsley. So can staying at a healthy weight, wearing sunscreen and getting regular sleep. All habits that happen to make you look younger, too!

MORE: Preventing Cancer: The Facts and Myths