Another Reason Why Sitting is Just No Darn Good For You

What You Need to Know: Although not a life-threatening condition, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) is one of the most annoying and troublesome problems that plagues aging men. A recent study from Korea shows that BPH is nearly twice as common among those with the highest sedentary time (over 7 hours per day).

Background: Risk factors for BPH include age, family history, and hormones. Lifestyle (smoking, drinking, physical activity) may also play important roles in developing BPH.

Details, details: Investigators from Korea used a cross-sectional survey performed annually for 3 years by trained interviewers to identify men with BPH and to collect information about their smoking, drinking, diet, and physical activity habits. Of the initial 779 men, 582 had urinary symptoms and underwent a digital rectal exam, PSA screening, and rectal ultrasound to assess prostate size and to identify prostate cancer. Investigators defined BPH as a prostate volume of 25 mL or more (by ultrasound) and a score of 8 or more on the International Prostate Symptom Score.

Results: Among the physical activity variables, regular exercise, frequency of exercise, non-sedentary time, and leisure time did not show a statistically significant association with BPH. However, BPH appeared to be 1.7x more frequent among those with the highest sedentary time (more than 7 hours).

My Take: An increasing body of research links prolonged sitting to the risk of dying from cardiac and metabolic diseases, even among those who work out. This study adds to the body of literature regarding the dangers of sitting. The current research does not establish causality, but I would suggest that men with sedentary occupations become more active at work. Consider using a standing dek, standing whenever chatting on the telephone, getting up to walk a bit for a few minutes every hour, and using a stability ball to engage core muscles while sitting. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.


Reference: Lee HW et al. Int Neurourol J 2014; 18:155-162,

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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