slight link between sitting and increased cancer risk could have major public health implications, Patel’s group said.
Experts were puzzled by the fact that sitting appeared to boost a woman’s odds of cancer, even after the research team factored out the notion that sitting might simply mean less daily exercise.
For example, “one would assume that women that exercise more have a decreased risk of breast cancer, but the study tried to control for this variable,” breast cancer specialist Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says.
“It is unclear why leisure time spent sitting, if not a marker for decreased physical activity, would increase the risk of cancer,” she says. Bernik believes more study is needed to pinpoint the reason behind the finding.
Dr. Charles Shapiro directs translational breast cancer research at the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai, also in New York City. He says the study was limited by the fact that it relied on the recall of people answering questionnaires about past habits. Still, he says, “the study is of importance because it highlights that less leisure-time sitting and increased physical activity are distinct [entities],” with separate implications for cancer risk.
Tips to reduce sitting time
It is recommended that we exercise regularly, at least 150 minutes a week, and reduce sitting time. However, due to our schedules or the nature of our jobs, that may be easier said than done for some than others.
Having trouble reducing your sitting time?
Check out these tips:
- stand on the train or bus
- take the stairs and walk up escalators
- set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
- place a laptop on a box or similar to work standing
- stand or walk around while on the phone
- take a walk break every time you take a coffee or tea break
- walk to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing or calling
- swap some TV time for more active tasks or hobbies