There's a good chance you too are among the millions of Americans who sit around watching TV for hours at a time. Obviously, nobody would blame you for binge-watching "House of Cards" and finally finishing "Parks & Recreation" marathon-style, but if you're regularly parking yourself in front of your TV for several hours, you might be additionally contributing to your untimely death, according to new research.
In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers at the National Cancer Institute suggest that prolonged TV watching is a bigger public health issue than previously thought. Specifically, the study finds links between increased hours spent watching TV per day and increased risk of dying from eight leading causes of death in the US, including cancer and heart disease. The researchers also found new links between too much TV and dying of Parkinson's disease, liver disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, suicide, and influenza/pneumonia, according to ScienceDaily.
But what does watching TV have to do with dying? It all comes down to sitting -- and sitting for way too long.
"We know that television viewing is the most prevalent leisure-time sedentary behavior and our working hypothesis is that it is an indicator of overall physical inactivity," Dr. Sarah K. Keadle, of the National Cancer Institute and the study's lead investigator, said in a statement. "In this context, our results fit within a growing body of research indicating that too much sitting can have many different adverse health effects,"
The numbers are pretty startling. Compared to people who watched less than an hour of TV per day, people who said they watched three to four hours a day were 15% more likely to die from any cause of death. Worse yet, people who watched seven or more hours daily (seriously, at that point, what are you doing?) were 47% more likely to die during the course of the study. These numbers held even when the investigators factored in things like smoking, health status, alcohol consumption, and diet. The study focused on 221,000 people between the ages of 50 and 71, who didn't have a chronic disease at the start of the research.
Are you standing up yet? Unfortunately, that won't help.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and thinks that not having cable has helped him cut back -- at least a little. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.