The typical person’s daily routine revolves around sitting. Unless you work a hands-on job, your commute, work life, and time at home likely involves generally sedentary behavior. We all know sitting for too long isn’t good for our health, but research shows that excessive sitting can lead to cancer. Yes, cancer. Smoking isn’t the only thing you should cut out of your life to avoid these risks — here’s why, and what preventative measures you can take.
Research shows sitting can cause cancer
According to a study conducted by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, research shows sitting for extended periods of time can lead to cancer. People who spend more hours sitting per day have a whopping 66% higher risk than those who are more consistently active.
Exercise won’t offset how much you sit
You might think that if you’re someone who sits for long periods of time everyday, some weekly exercise will offset the negative effects. However, a review of 43 studies showed that “even people who worked out regularly but who spent more hours on the couch watching TV, for instance, showed higher rates of cancer than those who didn’t sit as much,” according to Time.
It’s associate with colon, endometrial, and lung cancer
The study even broke down the specific percentages for each type of cancer sitting can cause. The research showed “sedentary behavior was associated with a 24% greater risk of developing colon cancer, a 32% higher risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21% increased risk of lung cancer.”
However, sitting has not been associated with other types of cancer, such as breast, prostate, or non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Sitting can cause a domino effect
Sitting may not always directly lead to endometrial and colon cancer, but it can cause a domino effect through obesity. Sedentary behavior can play a huge part in weight gain, and if it results in obesity, the risks could be deadly. Time reported that “obesity can promote cancer-causing processes such as inflammation and may enhance certain hormones that are linked to tumor formation.”
They continued, “Weight gain can also lead to lower levels of vitamin D, and that can contribute to higher risk of colon cancer.”
TV watchers may specifically be at a higher risk
Whether you’re at work, commuting, or hanging out at home, all types of sedentary behavior are unhealthy. However, TV watchers may specifically be at a higher risk. The study noted that “TV watchers tend to drink more sugared sodas and unhealthy, processed snack foods that can both contribute to obesity and increase exposure to potential food-based cancer-causing agents.”
Add more movement into your daily activities
Even if you work a desk job, you can add more regular movement to your routine to avoid cancerous risks. Dr. Graham Colditz of the Washington University School of Medicine recommends a number of ways to keep your body active:
- Take a break every few hours
- Get up and walk around the halls or outside
- Avoid eating lunch at your desk
Mayo Clinic even recommends standing while talking on the phone, opting for a standing desk, or, if possible, working on your computer from a treadmill.
You’ll benefit in a number of ways from increased activity
If you’re nervous about having to fit more activity into your day, Mayo Clinic assures that even leisurely movement can work wonders. No matter what, you’ll burn calories, which could potentially lead to weight loss and will increase your energy.
You’ll give your muscles more activity by even just standing, and more movement will “trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body.” Sitting does the exact opposite — stalling those processes — which increases a number of health risks.
Consider incorporating even minor movements throughout the day — your life could depend on it.
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