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Ladies — it’s time to get off our butts and take a stand.
A new study published in “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention” reveals that women who sit too much during their leisure time have an increased risk of cancer.This is the latest study showing that the sitting disease, too much time on our rumps, negatively impacts our health.
“I think this is a really interesting result. There’s been a growing body of literature over the past couple of years that too much sitting carries risk above just lack of exercise. Only in the past few years have we seen studies address cancer specifically,” says Karen Basen-Engquist, director of the Center for Energy Balance and Cancer Prevention and Survivorship at MD Anderson Cancer Center, who was not involved in the study.
The prospective included 184,000 adults aged 50 to 70, who were enrolled in American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Participants answered a questionnaire about how many hours they work, exercise, complete household activities, and sit for leisure, which is sitting to watch TV, reading, or playing with electronic gadgets. Then the researchers followed the 69,260 men for about 13 years and the 77,462 women for about 16 and compared their behaviors to their health.
For women, the news isn’t great. Those who sat more than six hours a day had a 10 percent greater risk of getting any cancer compared to ladies who sat for less than three hours. Those sitting for more than six hours daily had a 65 percent increased risk for multiple myeloma, a 10 percent increased risk for invasive breast cancer, and a 43 percent higher risk for ovarian cancer than their peers lounging for three hours or less.
While men in general did not have an increased risk of cancer, the study did find that obese men who sat for long periods of time experienced an 11 percent higher risk of cancer.
“It’s interesting you don’t see the effect in men as strongly because when we look at physical activity it’s a risk factor for certain cancers in men, too. I think maybe something about those particular cancers like ovarian and invasive breast cancer and endometrial that it’s driven by something that’s affected by the sitting behavior,” says Basen-Engquist.
Time sitting might be associated with other bad behaviors, such as noshing on junk food. Dr. Natalie Azar told TODAY Thursday that sitting for too long can impact one’s metabolism and may also increase body fat and estrogen levels, which can lead to common female cancers.
The results contribute to evidence highlighting the health risks of prolonged sitting, but Basen-Engquist says the study does have a limitation.
“It is self-reported data; the people were asked in general to estimate how much they sit and that can be a hard thing to estimate because it varies day to day and you can have problems remembering.”