Report: Binge-watching TV shows is silent killer


Netflix executives may have to change up their business model in the future, as a new study published last week suggests that binge-watching TV could lead to increased risk of dying from inflammatory diseases.

Inflammatory disease covers a vast array of conditions, from Alzheimer’s to diabetes to kidney disease.

Australian researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute found in a study of more than 8,900 adults that for each additional hour of TV they watched, their risk for inflammatory disease increased a whopping 12 percent. Those who spent more than four hours a day watching TV were at greatest risk.

The study published in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, utilized quizzes of adult participants on their TV viewing habits between 1999 and 2000. It is interesting to note this was well before the rise of Netflix and the coining of the phrase “binge-watching.”

Respondents were grouped into three categories: less than two hours, greater than two hours but less than four hours; and more than four hours.

The 12-year follow-up saw 909 of the participants had died.

Of these deaths, 130 were inflammatory-related, and 172 non-inflammatory related.

Of the inflammatory-related deaths, 21 were from diseases of the respiratory system and 18 of the nervous system.

Those who watched between two to four hours of TV a day saw a 54 percent increase of inflammatory-related death.

Respondents who watched more than four hours were found to have a twofold greater risk of inflammatory disease than those who watched two.

“TV time was associated with increased risk of inflammatory-related mortality. This is consistent with the hypothesis that high TV viewing may be associated with a chronic inflammatory state,” the authors wrote.

More noteworthy is that those who claimed to have watched more TV also were older, less likely to have completed at least 12 years of education, had lower household income and were more likely to be smokers, the authors noted.

Dr. Megan Grace says while more research is needed, the findings build on growing evidence about the negative impact prolonged sitting has on health.

“People should be attempting to sit less and move more throughout their day because we do believe there are health benefits,” Grace said.

She says when the immune systems experience stress or infection, it responds with inflammatory proteins meant to protect cells. But when these chemicals stay in the system too long, they can cause disease.

“Our findings suggest that perhaps inflammation is important and this is something we would like to pursue in the future,” Grace said.

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