Watching TV for hours increases one’s risk of dying, Japanese researchers have found. The cause of death may most likely be due to a blood clot in the lungs.
Researchers looked into the viewing habits of 86,024 people from 1988 to 1990. Their health was monitored over the next 19 years.
The study found that every additional two hours of TV, each day, increased the risk for pulmonary embolism (PE) by 40%. Those who watched for at least five hours were more than twice as likely to die versus those who spent below 2.5 hours.
According to the National Institutes of Health, pulmonary embolism is a lung artery blockage caused by a blood clot coming from a leg vein — another condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Pulmonary embolism is fatal as it decreases blood flow to the lungs, making oxygenation difficult. Consequently, other organs of the body are affected. About 30% of patients die when left untreated.
In the study, mortality from pulmonary embolism was concluded through death certificates by 2009.
Dr. Toru Shirakawa, study co-author from Osaka University, said via BBC:
“Nowadays, with online video streaming, the term ‘binge-watching’ to describe viewing multiple episodes of television programmes in one sitting has become popular. This popularity may reflect a rapidly growing habit.”
In relation to binge-watching, venous stasis — or slowed blood flow — caused by prolonged sitting was seen as potential mechanism for clotting.
“Related risk factors such as obesity, history of hypertension, history of diabetes mellitus, and cigarette smoking were not significantly associated with the risk of mortality from pulmonary embolism in the present study,” Shirakawa said.
It must be noted that the study was conducted prior to the surge of mobile devices. To address the problem, authors of the study suggest walking and stretching after every hour spent on TV.