Watching TV excessively is found to be associated with the eight leading causes of death, a recent United States study revealed.
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) tracked thousands of patient health history beginning from 1995 up to 2011 or until the unexpected death of the individual.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, said that about 80 percent of Americans spend an average of three-and-a-half hours per day watching TV.
"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 Sarah Keadle, the study's lead author.
The researchers also established that excessive TV watching could lead to the following:
Previous studies have shown that people who spend too much time in sedentary positions or sitting inactively in one place have higher risks for different types of cancer.
A team of researchers from the University of Regensburg in Germany found that the risk for cancer increases as the amount of time spent watching TV or sitting in one place also goes up. With a two-hour increase, the risk for colon cancer is 8 percent; for endometrial cancer, it is 10 percent; and for lung cancer, the risk is 6 percent.
Meanwhile, the current NCI study said that 793 adult patients who died due to cancer had spent at least seven hours per day watching TV. Other patients who watched lesser hours of watching TV were excluded in the count.
Another research published in 2011 revealed that spending four hours per day watching TV increased the risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Researchers from the United Kingdom said that prolonged sedentary positions slow down the action of the lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides found in the blood. When the enzyme activity slows, levels of these fats increase. If it accumulates in the blood, it could eventually lead to several heart diseases.
The current NCI study said that about 514 adult patients who died from coronary heart disease had spent at least seven hours per day watching TV. Other patients who watched lesser hours of watching TV were excluded in the count.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Research presented by experts from Osaka University at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress revealed that spending an average of five or more hours watching TV could lead to a lung condition called pulmonary embolism.
Prolonged sitting or sedentary positions could cause one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs to be blocked, and it could also eventually lead to death, scientists said.
The lung condition is often found in airplane passengers who have to sit for too many hours while in their flight.
Another study conducted by researchers from Hokkaido University focused on the association of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) to watching TV in connection to Japanese adults.
The current NCI study revealed that about 122 adult patients who died from COPD had spent at least seven hours per day watching TV. Other patients who watched lesser hours of watching TV were excluded in the count.
A study conducted by the American Diabetes Association assessed several different researches that linked type 2 diabetes to spending too much time watching TV.
Researchers found that for every 100,000 individuals in the U.S., there were 176 possible cases of type 2 diabetes in which the individual spends about two hours in front of their TV screens.
The current NCI study revealed that about 70 adult patients who had diabetes had spent at least seven hours per day watching TV. Other patients who watched lesser hours of watching TV were excluded in the count.
Kathi MacNaughton, an expert from HealthCentral, explained that when a person spends time lying around, fluid may collect in the lungs and lead to pneumonia.
She said that some of the symptoms of pneumonia included sweating, shortness of breath, chills, headache, fatigue and muscle pain.
The current NCI study revealed that only about 43 adult patients who had pneumonia had spent at least seven hours per day watching TV.
Meanwhile, about 28 adult patients who spent at least seven hours per day watching TV had Parkinson's and died from the disease.
There are no known studies regarding the association between Parkinson's disease and spending too much time watching TV, and no one knows what causes the disease in general. However, Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that strips away a person's motor skills, and its symptoms include muscle rigidity, bradykinesia or slowness in initiating movement, resting tremors and postural instability.
A study conducted in South Korea revealed that reduced physical activity caused by spending too much time watching TV can lead to liver failure and death.
Researchers examined 140,000 Koreans and found that nearly 40,000 of them had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). These patients were not obese, researchers said. They concluded that prolonged sedentary behavior had a direct impact on physiology.
The current NCI study revealed that about 29 adult patients who had liver disease had spent at least seven hours per day watching TV. Other patients who watched lesser hours of watching TV were excluded in the count.
Meanwhile, about 13 patients who had spent at least seven hours per day watching TV committed suicide, the NCI study said. Again, other patients who watched lesser hours of watching TV were excluded in the count.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., and depression affects about 25 percent of Americans in the country.
Researchers from the NCI hope that their study will inspire further research. They reminded the public that one way of maintaining a healthy well-being is by exercising and taking care of the body through self-love and a healthy lifestyle.
Photo : Iain Watson | Flickr