Desk jobs double bowel cancer risk
If you are sitting behind a desk reading this, the news is not good unfortunately.
Scientists have found that office workers who have been in a desk job for 10 years or more are two times more likely to suffer from bowel cancer than those who have more active jobs.
Even for those office workers who exercise regularly, researchers say they still have an increased risk of developing the disease.
There are around 40,000 new cases of bowel cancer diagnosed each year, and it claims approximately 16,000 lives each year.
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After being diagnosed with the disease, 70 per cent of sufferers survive past the first year, with about half living surviving for at least five years.
There is well established evidence that shows certain lifestyle factors contribute to bowel cancer – things like high levels of alcohol consumption, diets that are high in fat and not exercising enough.
It is now been discovered that long periods of sitting and inactivity during the day is another contributing factor, according the research team from the University of Western Australia.
The new findings support previous research which found men who spend most of their working day sitting down are 30 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than those who enjoy a more active working life.
The study compared 918 bowel cancer sufferers with over 1000 medical volunteers who did not have the disease.
They were asked about their lifestyles; things like occupation, job history, and levels of physical activity.
The results of the study – which have been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology – found that those who spent a decade or more in a mainly desk-based occupation had a 94 per cent higher chance of developing a tumour in the distal colon, an area in the lower bowel.
It was also discovered that they were 44 per cent more likely to develop rectum cancer.
It is thought that spending a long time sitting down in the day can increase blood sugar levels and damage insulin production, both of which are things that have been linked to bowel cancer.
The researchers said: “We found those who spent the most time in sedentary work had a risk of distal colon cancer that was twice that of those who spent the most time in a job requiring light activity.”
“Even a high level of vigorous recreational physical activity did not modify the effect of sedentary work.”
“The findings have occupational health implications, given that advances in technology have led to increasing amounts of sedentary behaviour at work.”
Dr Claire Knight, a health information officer at Cancer Research UK, agreed that these findings back up results from other studies on physical inactivity and cancer.
However, she did point out that it would be helpful to conduct a larger study: “This is a fairly small study which relied on asking people about their behaviour years ago, which can make it less reliable.”
“But it does reflect other larger studies which show that being physically inactive can mean a greater cancer risk.”
She added: “Even small amounts of physical activity can be good for your health and add up over the course of the day and the more active we are the more we can help reduce our cancer risk.”
“Being physically active also helps with keeping a healthy body weight, which we know can reduce the risk of many types of cancer.”