New Delhi: Those men who like to binge-watch television, need to be careful as a study has found that more than four hours of TV a day could put them at a risk of bowel cancer.
Researchers analyzed data from more than half a million men and women and found that men who spent less time in front of the TV were also less likely to develop bowel cancer later in life.
After six years of follow-up, 2,391 people went on to develop bowel cancer.
When researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France, Imperial College London and the University of Oxford in the UK analyzed the data they made the link between sedentary behaviour and bowel cancer.
It was found that an increase in physical activity lowered the risk of colon cancer in men. However, no association was found between computer screen time and bowel cancer risk.
"Previous research suggests that watching TV may be associated with other behaviours, such as smoking, drinking and snacking more, and we know that these things can increase the risk of bowel cancer," said Neil Murphy, lead researcher based at IARC.
"Being sedentary is also associated with weight gain and greater body fat. Excess body fat may influence the blood levels of hormones and other chemicals which affect the way our cells grow and can increase bowel cancer risk," said Murphy.
Bowel cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in UK men. In the UK there were around 41,800 newly diagnosed cases of bowel cancer in men and women in 2015.
"This study poses interesting questions such as why screen time from computers did not increase the risk of bowel cancer but watching TV did," said Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's prevention expert.
"There is evidence that greater exposure to TV junk food adverts increases the likelihood of eating more, which will also increase your chances of becoming overweight," Bauld said.
"It's interesting that only men who watched a lot of TV had an increased risk of bowel cancer, but not women," she said.
"The study didn't look at this directly, but it could be because men might smoke, drink and eat more unhealthily than women while watching TV," she added.
The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer.
(With PTI inputs)