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Inactivity: A Hidden Cancer Risk

TV-for-web1According to The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) expert report shows that physical activity lowers the risk of several cancers, both independently and by preventing weight gain. Yet if activity can help prevent cancer, can inactivity increase the risk? It’s quite possible, suggests the emerging field of sedentary behavior.

Recent studies suggest that sitting for prolonged periods of time leads to unique physiological effects – independent of a person’s structured activity time – that play a role in cancer and other chronic diseases. The research is still in its early phases, experts say, yet it may soon change the traditional view of healthy activity.

“There has been an explosion of research in [sedentary behavior] and health, and the preliminary evidence is pretty encouraging to make us think this is an important area of work to focus on for cancer risk,” said Brigid Lynch, PhD, an epidemiologist at Canada’s Alberta Health Services and author of a review on cancer risk and sedentary behavior.

“People who are active are getting health benefits of physical activity, and that’s great, but what the research is finding is that it’s not enough. We need to think about how people are spending the bulk of their day.”

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