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Study: Sitting Can Have 'Lethal Consequences', Increased Cancer Risk

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"If you've sat an hour, you've probably sat too long."

Just when you thought there couldn't be one more thing left in the world that could increase your risk for cancer, new research is saying that sitting for extended periods of time can do it as well.

For many of Americans, this means your job where you spend at least eight hours sitting at a desk. The research produced by Canadian epidemiologist Christine Friedenreich from Alberta Health Services-Cancer Care, links physical activity as the potential cause of 173,000 cases of cancer per year.

Live Science reports Friedenreich, who reported her findings at the American  Institute for Cancer Research conference this week, as saying breast and colon cancers appear to be the most prevalent forms of cancer resulting from inactivity at 49,000 and 43,000 cases respectively.

Alpa Patel, an epidemiologist from the American Cancer Society, according to USA Today, reviewed Friedenreich's research and thinks the data seems reasonable. Friedenreich reviewed 123,000 people and found the longer they sat, their higher risk for cancer and a shorter lifespan.

Live Science continues with how this research joins other recent studies that are beginning to correlate long periods of sitting with "lethal consequences":

The work adds to a growing body of research indicating that prolonged sitting has lethal consequences, regardless of how active people are the rest of the day.

"It seems highly likely that the longer you sit, the higher your risk [of cancer]," said Neville Owen, head of behavioral epidemiology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, who also presented findings at the meeting. Owen's study showed that U.S. adults, on average, sit 15.5 hours a day.

The amount of time we spend standing up and walking "makes up such a tiny sliver of a person's waking hours," Owen said.

Luckily, the report states that breaking up prolonged sitting with light exercise is all it really takes to reduce this risk. Owen's study, according to Live Science, found that just one to two minutes of activity to interrupt sitting reduces the number of molecules on your body that could increase cancer risk. USA Today report James Levine, a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., as saying, "If you've sat an hour, you've probably sat too long."

Here are some tips from the American Cancer Research Institute to help get you on your feet (via Live Science):

  • Set a timer on your computer to remind you every hour that it’s time to step away from your desk, and take a short walk down the hall.
  • Instead of emailing a co-worker, chat with him or her over a walk.
  • If possible, stand up and walk around during phone calls and meetings.
  • Keep light hand weights in your office to use while reading email or talking on the phone.

[H/T Gizmodo]

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