Liver Disease Is Linked To Prolonged Sitting

Past studies have already told us that being immobile raises our chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and becoming obese. Now, there’s new evidence by researchers at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in South Korea that sitting for long periods of time can increase our risk of liver disease.

According to the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, people who sit for 10 or more hours per day on a daily basis have a 9 percent greater risk of contracting a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than people who spend 5 hours or less sitting every day.

The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Hepatology and the study also noted that people who were physically active were 20 percent less likely to end up with liver disease.

“The amount of time spent doing sedentary activity such as sitting at a computer or watching TV has increased dramatically in recent years,” said Seungho Ryu, M.D., professor of occupational and environmental medicine and lead author of the study. “More than half of the average person’s waking day involves sedentary activities.”

According to the Liver Foundation, approximately 19 percent of Americans have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. NAFLD can cause swelling and scarring in the liver.

“Our body is designed to move, and it is not surprising that sedentary behavior, characterized by low muscle activity, has a direct impact on physiology,” Michael Trenell, a professor of metabolism and lifestyle medicine at Newcastle University in England, wrote in an editorial that accompanied the study in the journal.

The study was conducted by Dr. Ryu and fellow researchers with 140,000 Koreans from the Samsung Health Study cohort. The Koreans underwent a complete annual or biennial examination from March 2011 to December 2013.

The study found that younger males have the longest sitting time everyday (10 or more hours), they had higher BMI, and ate more calories on a daily basis.

“More than half of the average person’s waking day involves sedentary activities, and NAFLD is very common,” Dr Ryo told Medscape Medical News. “From the viewpoint of public health, reducing sitting time could have a substantial impact on liver metabolic health in the general population. So doctors need to educate patients not only about increasing physical activity but also about reducing time spent sitting.”

“The message is clear, our chairs are slowly but surely killing us,” said Michael I. Trenell, PhD, a professor of metabolism and lifestyle medicine at Newcastle University.

What can we do to counteract the chances of getting liver disease?

Get up off the couch. Run, walk, swim, bike, go to a gym, or take a hike. Everyone likes to sit when they get home. Sit a bit, but don’t stay there. Put an hour of some type of exercise into your life. It will give you more energy and minimize your chances of getting liver disease.

(image: via shutterstock)