Sitting Down, Cancer Risk Up

invisible man sitting on armchair


Needed more convincing that a sedentary lifestyle is harmful for your health? Researchers from the University of Regensburg’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine in Germany have discovered a connection between sitting down for long periods of time and certain forms of cancer.

This information was gathered from 43 previously conducted studies that monitored nearly 69,000 cancer patients. Dr. Daniela Schmid was the lead on this review of data, and she and her coauthor found an unfortunate link between patients diagnosed with colon or endometrial cancer and prolonged sitting or lying down. This does not mean that being an immovable T.V. watcher or office worker guarantees cancer.

“Cancer is a complex disease and has numerous possible causes, including genetic factors, environmental factors, and lifestyle factors,” Schmid told Reuters Health. “Prolonged sedentary time has been linked to other chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease as well as cancer.”


Sitting, Cancer and Television

The amount one sits over the course of a day, or the total time spent at a desk for work, did not appear to have the same harmful affect as sitting and watching TV. For many people, according to the research, TV time is a perfect opportunity to have a snack (usually not of the “doctor recommended” variety), enjoy a cigarette or drink sugary beverages.

Connections were not drawn to other cancers, including prostate, ovarian, testicular, breast and esophageal. However, lung cancer appeared to be affected by extended time sitting (not necessarily in front of the television).

It is not a surprising study in the sense that being inactive can cause harm. However, the fact remains that most people do not draw the line from cancer to sitting around. The concern many years ago was that sitting and watching TV could cause cancer, but it was due to the television set itself.

And yet, as with many cancers, diabetes and heart disease, poor health is an issue of the accumulation of multiple factors. For instance, endometrial cancer is often seen as brought about by obesity. If one sits and watches TV, they are not immediately given a bad diagnosis. It’s the combination of taking in too many calories and never burning them that makes the person obese.

Once the person is obese, and they have moved from choosing to live a life of sitting around (not all people make that choice from the start; this example only applies to those who do) to having no choice in the matter, then illnesses and disease rear their heads.

Doctors recommend that all people need to break up their sitting time by getting up, moving around and going outside. Plus, if you do find yourself sitting in front of the TV, avoid snacks that you know better than to eat in the first place.

These simple steps do not guarantee avoiding cancer, but they do give you a chance at better healthy.

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