Need a reason to watch less TV? Here are eight: cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, influenza/pneumonia, Parkinson's, liver disease, and suicide. Scientists are telling people to get off the couch after a study found a link between TV binge-watching and those leading causes of death. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute studied more than 221,000 people, aged 50 to 71, who had no chronic disease at the outset in 1995. Over 16 years, they found those who watched seven or more hours of TV per day were 47% more likely to die from any one cause, compared to those who watched TV for less than an hour, reports Medical News Today. Those who, like 80% of Americans, watched TV for three to four hours per day had a 15% higher chance of death. That was true even after researchers considered factors like calories and alcohol consumed, and whether people smoked.
The study's lead author notes that because "television viewing is the most prevalent leisure-time sedentary behavior"—Americans spend more than half of their leisure time in front of the TV, she says—it's likely "an indicator of overall physical inactivity," per a release. She adds the "results fit within a growing body of research indicating that too much sitting can have many different adverse health effects," though she cautions that because links to some causes of death appeared for the first time in this study, more research is needed. As a blogger and TV fan at Refinery 29 points out, it's not TV itself causing the harm, but too much on-your-butt time, especially when paired with junk food. Want to live longer but still binge-watch your favorite show every now and then? Exercise helps, "although we found that exercise did not fully eliminate risks associated with prolonged television viewing," says the researcher. (Here's another way TV binge-watching can kill you.)