Another disease linked to inactivity: Study finds increased risk of lung, head and neck cancers among the sedentary
08/11/2018 // Zoey Sky // Views

If you spend too much time sitting at your desk or on the couch, it's time to spend more time exercising.

According to recent studies, "a lack of exercise can cause a wide variety of diseases." However, physical inactivity is not currently recognized as a risk factor for cancer.

Dr. Kirsten Moysich, Distinguished Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, led two research teams which determined a solid link between physical inactivity and two different types of cancer: lung cancer and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), which adds to the list of cancers linked to sedentary lifestyles.

For the first study, the scientists observed a number of patients from Roswell Park who accomplished a questionnaire that gauged their level of physical activity during adulthood.

In the second study, patients diagnosed with lung cancer or head/neck cancer were compared with people who consulted healthcare experts at Roswell Park with a suspicion of cancer but were determined to be cancer-free.

For both studies, those who had no recorded history of regular weekly recreational physical activity had a higher risk of cancer, unlike those who had at least a regular weekly session of physical activity.

Dr. Rikki Cannioto, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park and first author on both studies, explains that it's important to take note of the increased risk that was found even in those who never smoked and were not overweight. This proves that like smoking or obesity, physical inactivity is "an independent but modifiable risk factor for cancer."


While earlier studies prove that there is a connection between physical inactivity and cancer, this is the first to systematically analyze lifetime physical inactivity as an "independent risk factor."

Dr. Iris Danziger, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department Otolaryngology at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, co-author of the study in head/neck cancer, adds that this unique approach allowed the researchers to find out that individuals who lived sedentary lifestyles are at high risk. (Related: Inactivity doubles your risk of blood clots: New study says sitting around, like when watching TV, raises risk even in those who exercise.)

Since current reports indicate that most Americans aren't sufficiently active, the results indicate that regular exercise can help minimize the risk for lung, head, and neck cancer.

Dr. Moysich commented, "The link between physical inactivity and cancer was consistently found in both men and women, normal-weight and overweight individuals, and among both smokers and nonsmokers." She concluded, "Our findings strongly suggest that physical activity should be actively encouraged as part of a multidisciplinary cancer care, survivorship and prevention program."

Office exercises you can do to stay active

Just because you're at the office doesn't mean you can sneak in an exercise routine or two. Check out these exercises that you can try when you're on a break:

Stretch your neck:

  1. Slowly tilt your head toward your shoulder.
  2. Hold for ten seconds.
  3. Do the same for the other side.

Loosen up your shoulders to ease any pain, improve flexibility, and add strength:

  1. Roll both shoulders forward in a circular motion.
  2. Roll both shoulders backward in a circular motion.
  3. Repeat steps one and two ten times.

Stretch your wrists to prepare for a long day of typing:

  1. Stretch an arm out with the palm down.
  2. Using your other hand, pull the fingers down on the outstretched arm. Hold this pose for three seconds.
  3. Gently pull up on the fingers, then hold for three seconds.
  4. Repeat this for the other arm. Alternate the left and right arm three times.

Strengthen your abs and relieve tired leg muscles:

  1. Put your feet flat on the floor and sit straight at your desk.
  2. Hold your abdominal muscles tight.
  3. Extend one leg until it's level with your hip, and hold the pose for ten seconds.
  4. Slowly lower your leg.
  5. Repeat steps two to four for 15 times.
  6. Switch legs and start over.

You can learn more about how to get in shape and stay active at

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