Everybody knows about the role of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a regular basis in maintaining good health. While many studies have reported on the link between cancer prevention and physical activity, none have attempted to explore the link between sitting time and cancer risk. Medical News Today recently reported on a study which found that women who spent a lot of time sitting were at greater risk of developing multiple myeloma, invasive breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
The study, which was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, analyzed data from 69,260 men and 77,462 women who had not been diagnosed with cancer. These individuals were enrolled in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. In the study period between 1992 and 2009, it was found that:
- 12,236 women and 18,555 men were diagnosed with cancer.
- Women who had spent longer times sitting were found to be more likely to develop multiple myeloma, invasive breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
- There was no link between the length of time men spent sitting and their risk of cancer.
These results are quite alarming as modern lifestyles include activities that involve a lot of ‘sitting’. Modern gadgets have minimized the need for physical activity. Workplaces are dominated by computers and leisure time, by television and video games.
The American Cancer Society notes that factors such as excess body fat, a high calorie diet and lack of sufficient exercise are clearly associated with higher risk of many types of cancer, though the exact reasons for this link are not known.
“…there is no question that they are linked to an increased risk of many types of cancer and that they are a serious and growing health problem,” say the society’s guidelines.
The society’s recommendations on the matter are as follows:
- Adults should get no less than 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity every week.
- Exercise sessions should be spread across the week.
- Children and teens should get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity every day, with vigorous activity on at least three days a week.
The society also says that physical activity above a person’s normal level of exercise would provide many health benefits.
Interestingly, another recent study highlighted the risks of prolonged standing at work. Long hours of standing can lead to fatigue, eventually causing more serious joint problems and back pain, say the researchers.
These findings of studies indicate the importance of changing positions while at work or during leisure. If an activity involves staying in the same position for a prolonged period of time, change your position now and then. The bottom line – avoid too much sitting and too much standing.