Your New Status: Not Sedentary

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Surf the web, watch TV or check your friends’ social media status and latest posts and suddenly you realize you haven’t been on your feet for 3 or 4 hours.

Over time, sedentary behavior (sitting in front of the computer or TV for example) may be, by itself, contributing to chronic disease risk, including cancer.

Yes, researchers are looking more and more at how much time people spend being  sedentary and the harm that does.

Two large studies (European Heart Journal and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology) measured participants’ “sedentary behavior” time and found that those with highest levels compared to those with lowest levels had increased risk of heart disease or heart disease risk factors.  These results are similar to those from smaller studies.

The good news: in one study participants who took more frequent breaks from being sedentary fared somewhat better.

If you have a sedentary job, take a short break every 30 minutes just to get up and walk or move around, even for a couple of minutes.  Spend less time in front of the TV and when you do watch TV, stretch or stand up for awhile – avoid just sitting for long periods of time.  Small steps do, indeed, make a difference.

Join our Never Too Late campaign and find ideas on how you can make changes at any age to move toward more activity  and healthier eating patterns.

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    Cautious Optimism for Survivorship Findings at AICR Afternoon Session

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    Moving more every day in any way is an important component to cancer survival.

    At the Diet, Physical Activity and Survivorship session of AICR’s annual meeting, leading researchers pointed to the latest developments in lifestyle changes that might affect risk and death from major cancers. Catherine M. Alfano of the National Cancer Institute stressed the desire of cancer survivors, now numbering more than 12 million in the US, to “take control and actively participate” in beating cancer.

    In breast cancer, physical activity has been studied most and found to have an impact on preventing recurrence and improving quality of life, as well as reducing negative side-effects of treatment.

    Human trials looking at the impact of physical activity, diet and obesity on other kinds of cancers are sorely needed — as borne out by evidence presented by Jeffrey Meyerhardt, Ph.D, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who noted that studies linking physical activity with preventing colon cancer have shown clear results, but design of studies on survivors have varied.

    Finding evidence on recurrence and mortality is more complex, Dr. Meyerhardt said, such as in looking into the various stages of colon cancer diagnosis, so these studies must be large and long-term, accumulating data over decades.

    Prostate cancer and physical activity also has not been adequately studied, although presenter Edward Giovanucci, MD, of Harvard University said that being active before diagnosis is best, and that vigorous activity seemed to help survivors in the later stages of prostate cancer. He noted that brisk walking (3 miles an hour or more) for at least 7 hours per week did seem to have a positive effect in a small study of prostate cancer survivors. As for obesity, studies so far do not show an effect on survival from prostate cancer, but they may affect screening and treatment effectiveness, which may in turn affect survival of this cancer. A low-fat diet also seems to help survival rates.

    The presenters emphasized the many health benefits of a physically active and prudent-diet lifestyle besides the likely cancer prevention and survival benefits, including lower risk for diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health problems — in other words it’s smart to make healthy changes while we are still healthy so that even after a cancer diagnosis, we are more likely to survive.

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      Share Your “Never Too Late” Successes — and Challenges

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      We’re pleased to announce AICR’s It’s Never Too Late to Lower Your Risk awareness campaign.

      Although you can’t control aging – which is the number one risk factor for cancer – the good news is you can make small, everyday changes to prevent or delay cancer at any age.  On our Never Too Late web section, folks age 50 and over will find many ideas, strategies and tips designed specifically to help them take important, but achievable, steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

      You will probably begin to feel better as you begin to make diet and physical activity changes, too.  Many people report having more energy, sleeping better and managing stress more effectively – a win-win situation as you lower your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases.

      But maintaining these changes can be challenging.  Support and new ideas are crucial in maintaining your good work or for getting back on track.

      This is where you can share your successes and challenges, offer encouragement and connect to others working toward the same goal.  Use the comment section below to let us know what you’re doing, how you’re progressing, what the challenges are and how you’re overcoming those obstacles.

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