2013 US Trucking News — Are Truck Drivers at Risk of Colorectal Cancer?

If the problem on truck driver shortage cannot at least be lessened, then what else can be done? On the effort of all these companies trying to solve the problem, another additional burden making the trucker recruitment a lot more difficult seems to have arisen.

Just last week (October 27 through 30), the American Association for Cancer research has released a new study during the 12th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research. For the past few months, many trucking companies have been sitting down in various association meetings, in an effort to suggest solutions for the problem of driver retention and recruitment. Many among the companies gambled on improving driver benefits, higher pay checks, more home time and, as a whole, trying to make the truck driver’s life a lot better.

More importantly, new hires are offered with attractive working conditions, but how might the trucking industry deal with a new research saying that the nature of truck driving, which is sedentary, puts the men drivers at risk for colon-related cancer?

Christine Sardo Molmenti, Ph.D., M.P.H, in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York, conducted a post-doctoral research to determine what causes colorectal adenomas cancer. She found out that sedentary behavior increases the risk of acquiring colorectal adenomas cancer, but not directly pertaining to driving itself.

Many claim that truck drivers are highly at risk of colorectal cancer, considering that a driver sits most of the time with limited physical mobility. Dr. Sardo Molmenti said, “Sedentary behavior is emerging as a risk factor for poor health. Even among those who fulfill daily recommendations for physical activity, lengthy periods of sedentary behavior have been associated with early morbidity and mortality, leading to the ‘active couch potato’ paradigm.”

In addition, Dr. Sardo Molmenti explained that colorectal cancer is caused by colorectal adenomatous polyps or colorectal adenomas, and once diagnosed, this can be treated through colonoscopy.

Research shows that the strongest possible causes of colorectal cancer are hereditary, smoking, lack of exercise and diet. Dr. Sardo Molmenti pointed out that there had been strong evidence supporting the association between physical activity and lower risk of colorectal cancer. However, not much study focused on the impact of sedentary behavior to being at risk of colorectal cancer. “To our knowledge, this study is the first to specifically investigate the association between sedentary behavior and recurrence of colorectal adenomas,” she said.

Sardo Molmenti said her team performed a pooled analysis of participants of two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III clinical trials conducted at the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health: The Wheat Bran Fiber Study and the Ursodeoxycholic Acid Trial. In the conducted pool, the participants undergo a trial enrolment. Among all the participants in the trial enrollment, one or more had colorectal adenomas removed when the colonoscopy was conducted in six months, beginning from their enrolment. All the participants totaled to 1,730, who all accomplished questionnaires that particularly inquired about household, leisure, recreational and other activities upon enrollment. In addition, every participant underwent follow-up colonoscopy.

Nonetheless, after a thorough analysis, Dr. Sardo Molmenti and her team found that there is no significant relationship between the level of activity and the recurrence of adenoma. Appallingly however, when the data gathered from men and women were examined separately, the team discovered a significant difference. Men who said they engage in sedentary behaviors and spend more than 11.38 hours on it are more likely to experience the recurrence of colorectal adenoma, compared with men who spend lesser than 6.9 sedentary hours in a day. The sedentary behaviors reported include reading, writing, typing or working on a computer. Luckily, for women, there was no evidence proving the association between sedentary hours and recurrence of colorectal adenoma.

In terms of occupations at risk of colorectal adenoma, Dr. Sardo Molmenti is implying that truck drivers are not an exemption. She does not directly say however that they are in all cases at risk, but others say they do. However, it still cannot be certain unless one will prove that excessive sitting and colon cancers are correlated.

Despite this, truck drivers must all be alerted with the findings in this research. In addition to the findings, men who reported high levels of sedentary behaviors and have poor levels of engagement in recreational activities were found to be 41% more likely to experience the recurrence of colorectal adenoma, and that men who reported high levels of physical activity and less sedentary behavior are lesser prone to recurrence. Usual recreational activities include playing golf, walking and jogging.

Because of this, Dr. Sardo Molmenti concluded that sedentary behaviors and less physical activity greatly contribute to the increased risk of individuals in developing colorectal adenoma. “Given the substantial increase in risk of colorectal adenoma recurrence (45%) we observed for men with the highest sedentary time, we believe it would be beneficial to see ‘reduce prolonged sitting time’ added to the list of public health recommendations currently in place for health promotion and disease prevention,” she emphasized.

However, Dr. Sardo Molmenti noted that everything is yet uncertain. A new method or tool is still needed for further and deeper study to really classify and quantify specific sedentary behavior as well as more specific links to colon cancers.

This might be another issue for the trucking industry, especially if topics like this will be sensationalized by the social media and news networks. In case, how might the trucking industry handle such?

In fact, truck drivers are more at risk to a number of health problems than any average American due to the nature of their work. According to some studies, colon cancer is quite difficult and expensive to detect. Others then resorted to preventive measures. Aside from the yearly visit of truck drivers to the doctor to maintain their license, many trucking companies require them to implement certain prevention techniques.

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