Too much sitting raises cancer risk for women far more than men

Jul 15, 2015 at 1:05 p.m. ET
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Women who sit too much each day have a much stronger chance of developing cancer than women who don't, according to a new study. This sobering news makes one thing clear: It's time to get moving.

The study, from the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, looked at more than 146,000 men and women and followed them for 17 years. During that time, nearly 31,000 of the participants developed cancer.

Pretty grim statistics, no?

"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," says Dr. Alpa Patel, who directs the Cancer Prevention Study-3 at the American Cancer Society. Among women, specific cancers associated with high levels of sitting during leisure time were the blood cancer multiple myeloma, invasive breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

More: How not to die from sitting too much (GIFS)

So, ladies, here's the deal: Read books for your mental health, but don't do it while sitting down! In all seriousness, for a person like me whose work requires her to be pretty much motionless for a good portion of the day (other than these typing fingers!) this news is not good. The solution is simple, elementary even. But we have to take it.

Every few minutes, no matter what your job is, you should get up and take a little break. Walk around. If you work from home, walk the dog. If you work in an office, go visit a neighbor. Use your lunch break to get outside and walk or even run to the gym. Don't neglect your time at the gym. Whether it's yoga or running or pilates or swimming, working out is the antidote to all that sitting.

Also, stretching matters. Every few minutes, do a series of yoga cat cows. Your cubicle mates might think you are nuts, but you'll be laughing all the way to a long life. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther out than you normally do. Ride your bike to work.

More: 'Fat girl' apps teach girls to hate their bodies

Put simply: There is just no excuse for sitting on our duffs all day even when we have sedentary work (Self, I am talking to you!). The truth is, we owe it to ourselves and to our children to move, move, move. So let's do it.

Do you take breaks for movement at work?

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