Here’s bad news for those who sit in front of a computer all day at work.
A new study has suggested that spending 10 years or more in a desk job almost doubles the risk of bowel cancer, even if you regularly keep fit or go to the gym.
The findings highlight the dangers of modern working patterns, where large numbers of employees are desk bound for hours at a time, reports the Daily Mail.
The research also backs up earlier studies which showed men who sit down most of the day at their jobs are 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than those with very active occupations.
Diets high in fat and red meat, as well as lack of exercise, are thought to be among the main risk factors.
But the latest study, by a team of experts at the University of Western Australia, show long periods of physical inactivity during the day could also be a major risk.
The researchers spoke to 918 bowel cancer victims and compared their working patterns with 1,021 cancer-free volunteers.
They were quizzed on their job history, lifestyles and levels of physical activity.
The results showed employees who spent more than a decade in sedentary jobs were 94 percent more likely to suffer a tumour in an area of the bowel known as the distal colon.
This is a large part of the bowel which connects up with the rectum. Researchers also found sedentary working patterns increased the chances of cancer of the rectum by 44 percent over a 10-year period.
They said their findings suggest no amount of leisure time activity can offset the harm done from long periods of sitting down on the job.
“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,” they said.
“The findings have occupational health implications, given that advances in technology have led to increasing amounts of sedentary behaviour at work,” they warned.
Sitting down on the job is thought to lead to increased blood sugar levels and damage insulin production, both of which have been linked with the development of bowel cancer.
It could also be that it leads to inflammation deep inside the body, another known risk factor for tumours, the researchers said.
The findings are published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.