Binge-watching television shows could kill you, researchers warn
An 18-year study of 86,000 people has found that the more you watch, the greater the risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism
People who spend hours bingeing on television shows run the risk of suffering a fatal pulmonary embolism, according to a major new study of more than 86,000 people tracked over 18 years.
Pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs, and is usually caused by a blood clot formed in a vein in the leg. Up to 60,000 people die as a result of pulmonary embolism each year in Britain.
Those who indulge in marathon TV sessions should take the same precautions against developing deadly blood clots as they would on a long-distance flight, warns the research, which was presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in London.
It is the first study into the links between prolonged television watching and fatal pulmonary embolism. A boom in online television services in recent years has allowed people to download and watch entire series of shows such as Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black in one sitting.
But people who sit in front of the television for five hours or more a day have more than twice the risk of suffering a deadly blood clot as those watching less than two and a half hours per day, the research says. And the danger of having a fatal pulmonary embolism is even higher among those between 40 and 59 who watch more than five hours daily.
They are at more than six times greater risk than those watching less than 2.5 hours a day. And in this age group, those watching 2.5 to 4.9 hours of television daily are more than three times more likely to develop a fatal blood clot than those watching less.
The research, funded by the Japanese government, looked at 36,007 men and 50,017 women aged between 40 and 79. Participants reported how much television they watched each day and were then followed for 18 years as part of the Japanese Collaborative Cohort Study. During the course of the study, there were 59 deaths from pulmonary embolism.
The risks of watching television were calculated after adjusting for other factors such as a history of hypertension or diabetes, smoking, drinking, and body mass index.
“We have known about the relationship between prolonged sitting and pulmonary embolism for some time, but this is the first time a direct link between prolonged television watching and fatal pulmonary embolism has been shown,” said Dr Toru Shirakawa, public health research fellow in the Department of Social Medicine at Osaka University in Japan, who led the research.
Independent News Service