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Sitting is the new smoking, study says
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.10.31 16:51
  • Updated 2017.10.31 16:51
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Working Koreans stayed an average of 2,113 hours at the office last year with most of those hours spent sitting down. Research now suggests that sitting is not just bad for you, but may shorten your life, too.

Research done in 2014 by the National Cancer Institute showed sitting could lead to the development of several types of cancer. The meta-analysis of 43 observational studies of over 4 million individuals and almost 70,000 cancer patients showed each two-hour increase in time seated increased the risk of colon, endometrial and lung cancer, regardless of exercise.

“Large amounts of time spent sitting can still be detrimental to those who are otherwise physically active. TV viewing time showed the strongest relationship with colon and endometrial cancer, possibly because TV watching is often associated with drinking sweetened beverages and eating junk foods,” the researchers wrote.

Meanwhile, another study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who sat more than six hours a day, regardless of exercise, died earlier than those who sat for three hours or less a day.

The study conducted on 53,440 healthy men and 69,776 healthy women showed 11,307 deaths in men and 7,923 deaths in women during the 14-year follow-up. Cardiovascular disease was the leading cause, the researchers wrote, which showed heavy sitters are more likely to develop heart disease. Sitters were more likely to deal with obesity and obesity-related problems, too.

“There is a growing body of evidence showing that reducing the amount of time spent sitting, regardless of the amount of physical activity, may [increase] obesity. However, current public health guidelines focus largely on increasing physical activity with little or no reference to reducing time spent sitting,” the researchers said.

The bad news continues with another research published in Diabetologia showing extended periods of sitting also increases an individual’s chance of developing type-2 diabetes. The study on nearly 800,000 participants showed the heaviest sitters were twice more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the lightest sitters.

Other researchers have suggested that sitting contributes to muscular issues, lipoprotein lipase (LPL) enzyme malfunctioning, and depression.

“Sitting is the new smoking. It’s almost universally bad. It’s time to quit,” said Pinchas Cohen, dean of USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology Tuesday at the Korea Healthcare Congress 2017.

Meanwhile, a new Ontario study suggests prolonged standing may be equally dangerous. The study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology studied 7,300 workers aged 35-74 in Ontario to find those who stood on the job were twice more likely to get heart disease than those who primarily sat.

“Workplaces have been hearing a lot lately about the health effects of prolonged sitting on the job. Our results suggest workplaces also need to pay attention to the health effects of prolonged standing and target prevention programs accordingly,” said Peter Smith, senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

A combination of sitting, standing and moving on the job is likely to have the greatest benefits for heart health, Smith noted.

“Workplaces need to apply this message not just to workers who predominantly sit, but also – in fact especially – to workers who predominantly stand,” he added.


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