Current Nutrition Reports

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 167–174 | Cite as

The Influence of Sedentary Behavior on Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Potential Molecular Mechanisms

  • Carmen JochemEmail author
  • Birgit Wallmann-Sperlich
  • Michael F. Leitzmann
Cancer (MF Leitzmann, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Cancer


Purpose of Review

Sedentary behavior is an emerging risk factor for several cancers. Here, we review the current epidemiologic evidence on sedentary behavior and cancer risk and summarize potential underlying molecular mechanisms.

Recent Findings

High compared to low sedentary behavior is associated with a 28–44% increased risk of colon cancer, a 8–17% increased risk of breast cancer, and a 28–36% increased risk of endometrial cancer. For other cancer sites, the current evidence is insufficient, mainly due to sparse numbers of available studies. Potential underlying biologic mechanisms linking prolonged sedentary behavior to increased cancer risk include metabolic dysfunction, alterations in circulating levels of sex hormones, and low-grade systemic chronic inflammation.


Prolonged sedentary behavior is positively related to cancers of the colon, breast, and endometrium. For other cancer types, the current evidence is inconclusive. Underlying biological mechanisms are poorly understood and need to be an integral part of future research.


Sedentary behavior Sitting Cancer Risk factor Lifestyle Adiposity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Carmen Jochem, Birgit Wallmann-Sperlich, and Michael F. Leitzmann declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carmen Jochem
    • 1
    Email author
  • Birgit Wallmann-Sperlich
    • 2
  • Michael F. Leitzmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Preventive MedicineUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Sports ScienceJulius-Maximilian University WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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