Many people spend their waking hours sitting. People sit when using the computer, eating, watching movies and even when they simply want to relax and do nothing but it appears that sitting is as dangerous to the health as smoking, a factor that raises a person's odds for a number of unwanted health conditions and even early death.
Researchers of a new study on TV viewing, sitting and cancer risks said that sitting down for an extra two hours can raise risks for certain cancers by up to 10 percent. For the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on June 16, two researchers from the University of Regensburg in Germany analyzed 43 studies involving over 68,000 cases of cancer to find a link between sedentary behavior and cancer incidence.
By comparing the different levels of sedentary behaviors, the researchers found that sitting is associated with increased risks for cancers of the colon, lung and womb lining with every extra two hours of sitting associated with six percent increased risks for lung cancer, eight percent elevated risks for colorectal cancer and eight percent increased risks of women developing endometrial cancer.
The researchers also observed that TV viewing, which is characterized by sedentary behavior and consumption of junk food and sweetened beverages, is strongly associated with endometrial and colon cancer. Earlier studies found an association between TV viewing and reduced life span with individuals who watch TV for six hours a day at risk of dying five years earlier than people who do not watch TV.
"Prolonged TV viewing and time spent in other sedentary pursuits is associated with increased risks of certain types of cancer," study authors Daniela Schmid and Michael Leitzmann wrote.
It also appears that the negative impacts of sitting are irrespective of the amount of exercise the participants had at other times suggesting that sitting down for too long can still increase the odds of developing cancer even in individuals who are physically active.
Graham Colditz, from the Washington University School of Medicine, blamed the prevalence of prolonged sitting and lack of physical activities to modern technology. "We accumulate sedentary time from sitting at school or work, motorized transport, watching TV, computer gaming, and so on," he said.
The American Cancer Society advise against spending too much time sitting, watching TV, lying down and engaging in screen-based entertainment as sedentary behavior is associated with increased risks for unwanted health conditions including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.