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Binge-Watching Television Is Even More Deadly Than Scientists Originally Thought

By 06.26.14
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Hey, what are you guys up to this weekend? Maybe ripping through the last few episodes of Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black? Or starting that big Mad Men binge-watch you promised yourself you’d finish before the show returns for its final half-season next year? Or are you finally gonna try to clear those last few episodes of Cosmos out of your DVR, leftovers from a spring filled with overstuffed Sunday nights of programming. In any event, that sounds like a great plan.

IF YOU WANT TO DIE.

People who watch television for three hours a day or more are twice as likely to die in the next few years as people who watch little or no TV, a new study has found.

It’s the latest in a series of studies that show sitting still can kill you. But this one has a few twists. TV watching seemed deadlier than sitting at a desk or driving a car all day — and the effect was seen in relatively young, healthy affluent people. So it doesn’t appear that people were watching TV because they didn’t feel well. [NBC News]

HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: Whaddaya think? Heart attack? Aneurysm? Foul play?

CORONER: [takes off latex gloves] Worse.

HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: What is it? POISON?

CORONER: No. Season 2 of Scandal.

HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: [drops cigar, which falls to the ground in slow-motion as dramatic music swells]

For every two extra hours of watching TV over and above one hour a day, the volunteers were 44 percent more likely to die from heart disease or stroke, 21 percent more likely to die of cancer and 55 percent more likely to die from something else, and that’s taking in account their age, sex, whether they smoked, whether they were obese and whether they ate a healthy, Mediterranean diet.

Yeah, but it’s more about the sitting around on your butt all day, right? It’s not like the act of watching television is any worse for you than, oh, say, sitting on the couch and staring at the wall.

Animal studies suggest that activities like watching TV might affect how the body manages cholesterol or carbohydrates, or it might raise inflammation — which is linked with cancer and heart disease.

“Compared to driving a car or doing work on a computer, television is a very passive activity,” Goldberg said. Other studies have suggested that watching television lowers the metabolism more than even sitting and doing nothing.

Oh.

And this study comes one day after TiVo’s big binge-watching survey, which found that 91% of people have binge-watched a show in the past year (defined as three episodes or more in a single day), with Breaking Bad being the most popular choice. This means that, in the eyes of science, the television show about meth is just barely less hazardous to your health than meth itself. Puts a whole new perspective on this scene.

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