The most sedentary people are 82% more likely to die from cancer, compared to those who are more active.

Better to walk than to stay on your couch. The health benefits of sport are numerous. Scientists at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas) (USA, may even have a protective effect. In their research, they find that physical activity can reduce the risk of death from Cancer.

A study over several years

“This is the first study to show a strong link between staying put and dying from cancer,” said Susan Gilchrist, lead researcher. With his team, they drew on data from more than 8,000 Americans, aged over 45, and collected between 2003 and 2007. None of them had cancer at the start of the study. All of them wore a hip accelerometer for seven days. The device measures the level of physical activity of the person wearing it.

Better to move a little rather than being completely sedentary

Of the total participants, 268 people died from cancer. Analysis of physical activity data shows that the more active people are, the less likely they are to die from cancer. “Our findings indicate that the amount of time spent sitting before the diagnosis of cancer affects the risk of death.” They estimate that replacing 30 minutes of sedentary lifestyles, such as sitting for a moment, with physical activity reduces the risk of death from cancer by 31% when it is a moderate to intense activity such as cycling, and 8% for light activity such as walking. “I tell my patients to get up 5 minutes an hour at work or take the stairs instead of the elevator,” says Susan Gilchrist. This may not seem like enough, but this study shows us that even light physical activity has positive effects.” She recommends incorporating 30 minutes of physical activity a day into her daily life to reduce the risk of death from cancer.

Differentiate physical activity and physical inactivity

Other studies have looked at the links between cancer and physical activity. In 2014, research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that a sedentary lifestyle increased the risk of developing cancer. Researchers estimate that “sedentary behavior” is associated with a 24% higher risk of colon cancer, 32% of the endometrium and 21% of the lung. “It is not enough to just be active; it is also important to sit less,” said study author Graham Colditz. If you play sports regularly but sit all day, try to walk a little more: during your lunch break, when you get home or when you get up regularly when you are at work.

Hugues Louissaint

Hugues Louissaint is an entrepreneur and writer, living in the US for over a decade. He has launched successful products such the Marabou Coffee brand, which has been highly successful in Florida. He has also been a writer for more than 5 years focusing on science, technology, and health. He writes part-time for the Scientific Origin and provides valuable input on a wide range of subjects.