Health  

‘Prolonged sitting increases breast, ovarian cancer risk’

WOMEN who spend a lot of their leisure time sitting may be at increased risk of multiple myeloma, breast and ovarian Cancercancers, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention.

Our sitting time has increased in modern times, due in part to the widespread use of televisions, computers and video games.

The link between sitting time and cancer risk is relatively unstudied, despite extensive evidence suggesting a link between cancer prevention and physical activity.

Research is increasingly investigating the adverse consequences of spending a lot of time sitting, as our sitting time has increased in recent decades, due in part to changes in transportation and the widespread use of computers and video games.

The American Cancer Society say in their guidelines that while it is not clear how excess body fat, consuming too many calories and not getting enough exercise raise cancer risk, “there is no question that they are linked to an increased risk of many types of cancer and that they are a serious and growing health problem.”

The society recommends that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, and that it is preferable if these bouts of exercise are spread throughout the week.

Children and teens, meanwhile, are advised to get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least 3 days each week.

The society adds that physical activity above anyone’s usual level of exercise also carries many health benefits.

The new study analyzed data from 69,260 men and 77,462 women who had not been diagnosed with cancer and who were enrolled in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort.

During this study, between 1992 and 2009, 18,555 men and 12,236 women were diagnosed with cancer.

The authors of the study found that the women in the study were more likely to develop multiple myeloma, invasive breast cancer or ovarian cancer if they spent longer times sitting. However, they did not find a link between the length of time men spent sitting and their risk of cancer.

They write: “Longer leisure-time spent sitting was associated with a higher risk of total cancer risk in women, and specifically with multiple myeloma, breast and ovarian cancers, but sitting time was not associated with cancer risk in men. Further research is warranted to better understand the differences in associations between men and women.”

However, Medical News Today reported on a study yesterday that found prolonged standing is also associated with health problems, such as fatigue, leg cramps and back ache. The authors warned that these types of sustained muscle fatigue can lead to serious joint problems and back pain.

Also yesterday, we looked at a study that examined why breast cancer survivors are more prone to weight-gain than cancer-free women. The study suggested that exposure to chemotherapy and a family history of breast cancer were potential drivers of this increased weight gain.

Meanwhile, a new survey has found that sitting comfortably might be ruining your back.

Soft sofas are being blamed for a rise in back problems. A fifth of people reported symptoms such as lower back ache and shoulder strain after purchasing a luxurious sofa and reclining on it regularly.

While wooden chairs or upright furniture were more popular in years gone by, increasingly people are opting for soft settees with deep cushions to sink into.

Although softer furniture might feel more comfortable, physiotherapist Richard Evans warned it could lead to discomfort in the long-run.

He said that comfier sofas encourage people to slouch rather than sit in a more supportive position to boost good posture.

Mr. Evans, of The Back and Body Clinic in Northampton, told DailyMail: “Sitting comfortably may seem a very basic human activity but in fact sitting properly, with muscles and vertebrae supported efficiently, does require good back support and posture.”

He added: “Modern sofas and cushioned chairs can encourage poor posture as the soft upholstery may not give the spine and neck the support that is required.

“By sitting for too long, especially in a poor postural or slumped position you can add a tremendous amount of pressure to your back, overstretch the spinal ligaments and increase the pressure on your intervertebral discs. This in turn can lead to on-going aches and pains.”

Adults in Western countries spend between 55 per cent and 70 per cent of their day sitting, and eight in ten British people suffer at least one bout of lower back pain during their lives.

The British National Health Service (NHS) advises that to avoid back pain, it is best to sit with your knees level with your hips, your lower back properly supported and with both feet on the floor. Crossing your legs or putting them up on the sofa next to you can lead to aches caused by bad posture.

The survey of 2,000 people was commissioned by Salonpas, which makes pain relief patches.

Other aspects of modern life which sufferers blamed for back pain included walking in high heels (22 per cent); carrying a large shoulder bag (47 per cent), and hunching over a smart phone (47 per cent).

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