More daily movement may lower cancer deaths

In the journals

Published: October, 2020

Greater amounts of physical activity during the day are associated with lower risk of dying from cancer, according to a study published online June 18, 2020, by JAMA Oncology.

The study involved about 8,000 people, average age 70, who did not have a cancer diagnosis. Each wore an accelerometer on the hip during waking hours for a week to collect movement data.

At the five-year follow-up, the researchers found an association between lower daily activity and a greater risk of dying from cancer. Over all, the more people moved during the day, the lower their risk. In fact, the most sedentary individuals — who, as a group, were inactive an average of 11 hours out of a 16-hour day — had an 82% higher risk of cancer death compared with the least sedentary people.

The study did not track specific types of movement, like the number of steps or particular exercises. Still, the researchers suggested that adding at least 30 minutes of any kind of activity throughout the day might help counter the potential danger from too much sitting.

Image: OJO_Images/Getty Images

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.