- A study in JAMA Oncology found an association between sedentary activity and increased risk of cancer.
- 8,000 participants wore tracking devices for seven days, and in a five year follow-up, researchers found that the participants that moved the least had the highest risk of cancer.
- The American Cancer Society recommends people engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week to prevent cancer.
Not moving for long periods of time can raise your risk of cancer, according to a study in JAMA Oncology.
While there have been a lot of studies connecting sedentary lifestyles with increased risk of cancer, most relied on self-reported data from the participants, who may not have been honest about their activity, or lack thereof.
That wasn’t the case in this latest study, where researchers equipped 8,000 participants with tracking devices to wear for seven days straight in order to get objective data about their movements.Advertisement
It was part of an experiment designed to find out what kind of effects a lifestyle without physical activity might have on a person’s health, without the bias of self-reporting.
None of the participants had cancer at the start of the study, but five years after it ended, the researchers found that 268 participants had died of cancer.
Even after taking into account factors like age, gender and disease status, researchers found that the most sedentary participants had an 82% higher risk of cancer than their most active counterparts.
“This is the first study that definitively shows a strong association between not moving and cancer death,” lead author Dr. Susan Gilchrist, an associate professor of clinical cancer prevention at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, told CNN.
45% of the participants were men, and the average age was 69. In keeping with what researchers know about cancer mortality rates, participants who died from cancer were likely to be smokers, older, and male, with a history of coronary heart disease. The study did not provide information about what kind of cancer the participants died from, so researchers don’t know if sedentary behavior raises risk levels for all cancers, or just some.Advertisement
Participants were sourced from the 30,000-person REGARDS study, which aimed to explore why Black people and Southerns got strokes more often than others.
Even light activity can have big health benefits
Replacing 30 minutes of sitting with an activity that requires light movement, like walking, can reduce people’s risk of cancer by 8%, according to the study. 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity was associated with a 31% reduction in cancer risk.
The American Cancer Society recommends people engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week to prevent cancer, though less than 25% of American adults meet those guidelines.Advertisement