Too much TV raises women's odds for early-onset colon cancer

accreditation
Too much TV could raise a middle-aged woman's odds for colon cancer
Too much TV could raise a middle-aged woman's odds for colon cancer

Binge-watching series after series might be fun, but too much TV could raise a middle-aged woman's odds for colon cancer, a new study finds.

Reporting in JNCI Cancer Spectrum, researchers tracked data for more than 89 000 US women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study.

The investigators found 118 cases of "young-onset" colon cancer – diagnosed under age 50 – occurring over two decades of follow-up.

The study couldn't prove cause and effect. But it found that women who'd watched more than an hour of TV a day had a 12% increased risk of colorectal cancer, compared with those who spent less time in front of the TV. That number rose to 70% for those who watched more than two hours of TV daily, the study authors said.

Coach potato

That trend was seen even after accounting for women's history of colon cancer, exercise habits or weight, according to the research team from Washington University in St. Louis.

The finding suggests that time spent sitting in front of televisions "may be an altogether distinct risk factor for young-onset colorectal cancer," study co-senior author Yin Cao said in a journal news release. She's assistant professor of surgery at the university.

The connection with TV watching was stronger for rectal cancer than for colon cancer, according to the researchers.

Cancer screening

Young-onset colorectal cancer is typically more aggressive and is becoming more common in the United States and worldwide. At the same time, better screening has brought about large declines in colon and rectal cancer for older people, the researchers noted.

Responding to these trends, last year the American Cancer Society altered its colon cancer screening guidelines. The ACS' recommended age for first colonoscopy was lowered to 45, not 50 as in prior guidelines.

One expert unconnected to the study called the new findings "very interesting."

"As young people are spending more time in front of the TV, especially with binge-watching from one of the streaming services, it would be important to make them aware of this additional risk, besides those of obesity and physical inactivity," said Dr. Aaron Harrison. He's chair of internal medicine at Northwell Health's Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 567 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 6886 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
11% - 875 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.74
+0.6%
Rand - Pound
20.13
+0.3%
Rand - Euro
17.56
-0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.52
+0.9%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.6%
Gold
1,710.20
+0.6%
Silver
20.87
+0.8%
Palladium
2,280.05
+2.5%
Platinum
915.50
+1.2%
Brent Crude
88.86
+4.2%
Top 40
59,314
+2.5%
All Share
65,779
+2.4%
Resource 10
63,759
+3.4%
Industrial 25
79,487
+2.5%
Financial 15
13,972
+1.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE