A new study has linked prolonged television viewing to eight leading causes of death in the United States. The findings showed that more hours spent watching TV increases the risk of death from most of the major causes such as cancer and heart disease.
On the average, 80 percent of adults in the US watch at least 3.5 hours of TV each day. About 92 percent of American homes have television and more than half of people's past time is spent just for TV watching. Although previous studies have demonstrated TV viewing as one of the activities leading to poor health outcomes, the current research tries to determine in particular how such activity could increase a person's risk of death.
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) followed over 221,000 people aging within 50 to 71 who were not diagnosed of any chronic disease upon entry. Investigators identified new links with other leading causes of death in the US which includes diabetes, influenza, Parkinson's disease and liver disease.
With their analysis, it showed that those who watch three to four hours of TV daily were 15 percent more likely to die from one of eight leading causes as compared to those who spent less than an hour watching. The risk for those who watch seven or more hours a day increased to 47 percent over the whole course of the research. Risks also began to increase at three to four hours per day for most cases they investigated.
"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," says principal investigator Sarah K. Keadle, Ph.D., MPH, Cancer Prevention Fellow at National Cancer Institute, in a press release. "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 study also found that exercise did not totally eliminate risks associated with prolonged TV viewing, and that both active and inactive individuals in the research were found to suffer detrimental effects.
However, researchers cautioned that while each of the associations observed have plausible biological mechanisms, there is still a need for additional research to verify and strengthen the results, knowing that some of these causes were being reported for the first time.
The study appears in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.