Stand up: Sitting linked to higher risk of colon cancer

Are you sitting down? A recently published study suggests that too much sitting can increase your risk of developing colon cancer by a whopping 24 percent. Worse yet, the damage caused by long periods of sitting cannot be reversed by exercise.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, was conducted by Daniela Schmid and Michael F. Leitzmann of the University of Regensburg in Germany. Schmid and Leitzmann reviewed 43 observational studies – representing a total of about 4 million people – in which the participants answered questions about their sitting behavior and cancer incidences.

After examining nearly 70,000 cancer cases, researchers found that, in addition to causing a 24 percent increased risk of colon cancer, extended sitting is associated with a 32 percent increased risk of endometrial cancer and a 21 percent increased risk of lung cancer. The percentages remained about the same even if the participants participated in the recommended amount of regular exercise, meaning that a morning run or evening bike ride can’t undo the damage of sitting in front of a computer monitor all day and/or lounging on the sofa watching television all evening.

I believe most people now recognize that being physically inactive is unhealthy. In addition to increasing the risk of cancer, prolonged sedentary time also has been linked to chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

If you have a job that requires extended periods of sitting, there’s no need to panic. It is recommended, however, that you make a conscious effort to get up and move around throughout the day. Walk to a colleague’s office rather than phoning or emailing, take the stairs when possible, work on your feet if possible, and stand up and move around for at least a few minutes every hour or two.

At home, turn off the television and put down the laptop. In short, stand up for better health.