Women Who Sit Too Long Have Higher Cancer Risk

A study finds that sitting for extended periods raises a woman's risk of three types of cancer by 10 percent.

Women Who Sit Too Long Have Higher Cancer Risk Photo (cc) by TheLivingRoominKenmore

Various studies have linked extended periods of sitting with health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Now another such study adds several types of cancer to that list.

The study associates long periods of sitting with a 10 percent increase in risk for certain cancers in women, but not in men. The types of cancer are:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Invasive breast cancer
  • Multiple myeloma, which affects white blood cells

The researchers note that further study is needed to better understand the differing results for men and women.

The study, “Leisure-time spent sitting and site-specific cancer incidence in a large U.S. cohort,” was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. It was led by Alpa V. Patel of the American Cancer Society’s Epidemiology Research Program.

Data on cancer diagnoses were compiled among approximately 69,000 men and 77,000 women who were initially cancer-free.

In a press release about the study, the American Cancer Society says:

Over the past few decades, time spent sitting has increased due to several factors, including technological advancements, like computers and video games, and changes in transportation.

The American Cancer Society’s guidelines for nutrition and physical activity recommend that people “limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching TV, and other forms of screen-based entertainment.”

The nonprofit organization does not specify a number of hours to which sitting should be limited, but it offers additional tips such as:

  • Use a stationary bicycle or treadmill when you watch TV.
  • Use stairs rather than an elevator.
  • If you can, walk or bike to your destination.
  • Exercise at lunch with your co-workers, family or friends.
  • Take an exercise break at work to stretch or take a quick walk.
  • Walk to visit co-workers instead of phoning or sending an email.
  • Go dancing with your spouse or friends.
  • Plan active vacations rather than only driving trips.
  • Wear a pedometer every day and increase your number of daily steps.
  • Join a sports team.

What’s your favorite way to prevent yourself from sitting for extended periods? Let us know below or on Facebook.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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