Long Hours at Desk Job Can Cause Breast Cancer: How to Avoid it

 
on November 05 2011 4:00 AM

At the American Institute of Cancer research (AICR) Annual Conference on Food, Nutrition and Physical activity, Washington experts presented a paper which shows the impact of physical activity on breast cancer.

The paper suggests that a brisk walk can help reduce several key biological indicators of cancer risks such as sex hormone levels, inflammation and body fat. The press release suggests that up to 40,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer in U.S. are linked with lack of physical activity.   

The findings say that people who sit for long hours have an increased risk of cancer, even if they exercise daily.

Taken together, this research suggests that every day, we're each given numerous opportunities to be active and protect ourselves from cancer, not one, said AICR spokesperson Alice Bender, MS RD.  We need to start thinking in terms of make time and break time.

Based on this research finding, AICR is urging Americans to take out time between the sitting hours. People who have to sit for long hours for work can break every hour of sitting with 1 to 2 minutes of break and incorporate a little bit of physical activity like walking around a bit.

Making time to get at least half an hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day is great, and more Americans need to do it, but those 30 minutes represent only a sliver of our day, Bender stated. This new research on break time suggests there are small things we can do in the other 15 hours and 30 minutes we spend awake that also make a big difference.

Senior Research Epidemiologist Christine Friedenreich, PhD, of Alberta Health Services-Cancer Care in Canada presented a paper wherein she demonstrated that even in previously desk-bound postmenopausal women, a moderate-to-vigorous-intensity exercise program results in changes in several biomarker levels that are consistent with a lower risk for postmenopausal breast cancer.

Friedenreich reported that engaging in moderate activity, like brisk walking, can significantly reduce the risk of certain cancers.

In breast and colon cancers, for example, we're seeing overall risk reductions of about 25 to 30 percent associated with higher levels of physical activity. With prostate cancer the evidence isn't as strong but it's still there - about 10 to 20 percent lower risk. For endometrial cancer, we are finding about 30 to 35 percent risk reduction with more physical activity.

These numbers are powerful, she said. The bottom line: For many of the most common cancers, it seems like something as simple as a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can help reduce cancer risk.

The AICR Web site provides certain tips for moving around more during work. They are:

  • Set the timer on your computer to remind you every 60 minutes that it's time to step away from your desk and take a short walk down the hall.
  • Walk with me. Got a quick thing to discuss with a co-worker? Instead of sending an email, ask him or her to join you for a walk to hash it out on the go. The pedeconference: It's not just for TV characters anymore.
  • Keep light hand weights in your office to use while reading email or talking on the phone.
  • During all phone calls and phone meetings, stand up and walk around.
  • Your office or cubicle wall is all you need for simple activities like stretches, vertical push-ups and leg lifts.
  • For a more vigorous activity break, ask your employer to put a punching bag or chin-up bar in your break room.
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