Who would have guessed that a natural posture could be so dangerous to our health? According to researchers from the University of Regensburg, Germany, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of certain cancers, including colon, endometrial and lung cancer.
The study, published in JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, comprised an evaluation of 43 observational studies, including over 4 million individuals and 68,936 cancer cases. The researchers compared the highest levels of sedentary behavior with the lowest and found that the risk for the cancers mentioned above were significantly increased in the groups with the highest levels of sedentary behavior. The researchers also observed that the risk increased with each 2-hour increase in sitting time: eight percent for colon cancer, 10 percent for endometrial cancer, and six percent for lung cancer, although the study authors qualified the lung cancer result as borderline statistically significant.
Equally alarming, the data indicated that individuals who were physically active but still sat for long periods of time were also at risk. Even active people often have jobs that keep them captive at a desk all day. They may go for a walk or work out at the gym, but if they head home for a few hours of television, their health could still suffer. The authors of the study, Dr. Daniela Schmid and Dr. Michael F. Leitzmann of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at the University of Regensburg, believe that television watching creates a double whammy for colon and endometrial cancer, because the activity is often associated with drinking sugary beverages and eating junk foods.
According to the authors, “limiting the time spent sedentary may play an important role in preventing cancer.” So, what can you do? For those who watch television, reducing the amount of time spent on this “inactivity” is a great start. If you sit at a desk all day, try to find innovative, non-sitting postures for completing your work. Multiple licensed massage professionals I talk to advise their clients to get up and move around every 30 minutes that they are stuck in a chair. A little stretching and walking to get the blood flowing can pay dividends over the course each day.
The link between physical inactivity and obesity, cardiovascular disease and certain types of diabetes has been strongly documented over the years. This new research shines a light on the additional damage a sedentary life can cause and warrants a call to action: Don’t just sit there! It’s hazardous to your health!
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