Leisure time spent sitting leads to higher risk of some cancers

Sitting linked to cancer
CC BY 2.0 Madame Récamier painted by Jacques-Louis David (1800)

New study may inspire sitters to get up and move.

How do you spend your leisure time? If you happen to occupy that part of your life while doing an activity that requires a chair or sofa, you may inadvertently be boosting your risk of certain kinds of cancer, a new study finds.

While we know that we are supposed to be active and that research links physical activity to cancer prevention, not many studies have looked at the association between sitting time and the risk of specific cancers. Spending more leisure time on one’s tush was linked to a higher risk of total cancer risk in women, and in particular with multiple myeloma, breast, and ovarian cancers. BMI, physical activity, and other factors were taken into consideration for the study, which was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention. The association was not found in men.

The study was led by Alpa Patel, PhD, and included more than 146,000 men and women (69,260 men and 77,462 women) who were cancer-free and enrolled in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Between 1992 and 2009, 18,555 men and 12,236 women were diagnosed with cancer.

They found longer leisure-time spent sitting was associated with a 10 percent higher risk of cancer in women.

The authors conclude, "Longer leisure-time spent sitting was associated with a higher risk of total cancer risk in women, and specifically with multiple myeloma, breast and ovarian cancers, but sitting time was not associated with cancer risk in men. Further research is warranted to better understand the differences in associations between men and women."

Moral of the story? Get off your caboose and get moving!

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