Men, Don’t Take Colorectal Cancer Sitting Down!

Colorectal adenoma recurrence higher in men with high sedentary behaviors

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Along with a healthy diet, there’s almost nothing better than being physically active for achieving optimum health. This reality is well known. But what about sedentary behavior – you know, sitting around or being a “couch potato" for many hours of the day? Does that matter?

Absolutely! A new study demonstrated that men who spent long periods of time sitting had higher risks of seeing precancerous colorectal cancer lesions come back than men who weren’t as sedentary.

Men who spent more than 11 hours a day sitting as they were writing, working on a computer or reading were more likely to have recurrent colorectal polyps that lead to colorectal cancer than men who sat for just under seven hours a day.

"If you sit during the day, take frequent walking breaks."

Christine L. Sardo Molmenti, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York, and colleagues evaluated the association between different types of physical activity and recurrence of colorectal adenomas (precancerous polyps).

Dr. Sardo Molmenti said in a prepared statement, “Even among those who fulfill daily recommendations for physical activity, lengthy periods of sedentary behavior have been associated with early morbidity [illness] and mortality, leading to the ‘active couch potato’ paradigm.”

Her team analyzed data on 1,730 participants in the phase III clinical trials - The Wheat Bran Fiber Study and the Ursodeoxycholic Acid Trial, both of which were conducted at the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson.

All of the participants had had one or more colorectal adenomas removed during colonoscopies within six months of their enrollment in the study.

Study members completed questionnaires about the various types of physical activity they engaged in – leisure, recreational, household, etc. They also each had a follow-up colonoscopy.

After reviewing the data, investigators found no link between different types of physical activity and the return of colorectal polyps.

What they discovered instead was that men who spent 11.38 hours a day being sedentary were 45 percent more likely to have colorectal adenoma recurrence compared to men who were sedentary 6.90 hours a day.

No link was observed between physical activity and sedentary behaviors and adenoma recurrence in women.

Drilling down on these results, the research team found that men who had high levels of sedentary behavior and low levels of recreational physical activity, such as walking, jogging and playing golf, were 41 percent more likely to have polyps return than men who had low levels of both sedentary time and physical activity.

“Our results suggest that sedentary time is associated with a higher risk of colorectal adenoma recurrence among men, supporting a role for sedentary lifestyle in the early stages of carcinogenesis. Efforts to intervene on sedentary time should be evaluated as a method for reducing recurrent adenomas,” the researchers wrote.

"We continue to learn more about preventable colorectal cancer risks, including diet and lifestyle,” Richard Berri, MD, director of Surgical Oncology at St. John Hospital and Medical Center's Van Elslander Cancer Center in Detroit, MI, told dailyRx News.

“This study confirms that daily habits - including long periods of sitting - can cause long-term changes in the body that may increase one's risk of developing certain types of cancer,” said Dr. Berri, who was not involved in the study.

Results from this study were presented at the 12th Annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

Before publication in a peer-reviewed journal, all research is considered preliminary.

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute. The author has declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 25, 2013
Last Updated:
January 2, 2014