Cancer prevention: Flexible work environment, folate supplementation may be protective

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A flexible work environment that enables staff to make time for physical activity appears to reduce cancer risk in middle-aged workers, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) Center for Work, Health, and Well-being. Staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight are two ways to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

The new study was one of two HSPH studies in a March 2014 American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) supplement on preventing cancer in midlife (roughly ages 45 to 64), a time when cancer often surfaces. The supplement was sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

Approximately 64% of adults spend about 34 hours per week on the job, making the workplace an important factor in health, wrote the authors.

Lead author Candace Nelson, Harvard-Liberty Mutual Post Doctoral Fellow in HSPH’s Department of Environmental Health, and colleagues studied data on nearly 1,600 patient-care workers at two Boston hospitals. “We found that workplace characteristics were more strongly related to physical activity than age,” Nelson said.