Watching TV has been linked with 8 major causes of death, in a study to be published in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The findings were determined after analyzing around 221,000 subjects, aged 50 to 71, who had been free of any chronic conditions at the beginning of the study.
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute aimed to identify the long-term consequences of watching television, given that this is the most popular sedentary behavior that individuals indulge in.
Approximately 92% of all Americans have a TV set in their home, and they dedicate around half of their spare time to watching televised shows, to the detriment of other more demanding and beneficial activities.
The researchers’ hypothesis was that excessive TV viewing is actually an indicator of overall lack of physical activity, which has far-reaching negative effects on health and well-being.
It was determined that those who spend a greater part of their time watching television are more likely to die prematurely as a result of the 8 leading causes of death in the U.S., which include diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease, pneumonia and influenza, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
More precisely, subjects who had spend around 3-4 hours every day in front of their TV screens were approximately 15% more at risk of dying over the study period, in comparison with those who had only dedicated less than one hour per day to this pastime.
Even for worryingly, those who had been glued to their TV for 7 hours or more faced a 47% higher probability of dying prematurely
These connections were maintained even when accounting for other disruptive factors, such as alcohol consumption, calorie intake, smoking etc.
It was also determined that physical exercise wasn’t potent enough to counteract the effects of watching TV for extensive lengths of time. The only time it was proven effective was when it had actually cut the number of hours dedicated to other more inactive hobbies.
Prior research had also signaled a connection between TV viewing and a heightened probability of dying due to malignant tumors or heart issues. Now, it appears that the impact is even greater than previously anticipated.
“Our results fit within a growing body of research indicating that too much sitting can have many different adverse health effects”, explained lead investigator Sarah K. Keadle, Cancer Prevention Fellow at the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, of the Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics Division, at the National Cancer institute.
As researchers say, additional studies have to be conducted now in order to understand more precisely the actual mechanisms that make prolonged TV viewing so damaging to the body.
Sedentary behavior had been found guilty of contributing to the onset of several health conditions, but it’s the first time that so many associations have been identified simultaneously, and their validity must be assessed even further.
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