Binge-watchers beware: It could kill you. A new study published in the journal Circulation found that the inactivity it takes to fly through a TV show could raise the risk of death from a blood clot in the lungs.
For every additional two hours spent watching television per day, the risk of deadly pulmonary embolism — or blod clot in the lungs — rose by 40 percent, the researchers found. For those who watched more than five hours of TV per day, the risk rose by 2.5 times.
Researchers spoke with more than 86,000 participants in Japan between the ages of 40 and 79 and asked how much TV they watched each day. They then tracked how many participants died of pulmonary embolism over the next 19 years, while tracking how many hours of TV the participants watched.
Fifty-nine participants died of a pulmonary embolism over the nearly two decades. Death by pulmonary embolism increased by 70 percent for those participants who watched 2.5 to 4.9 hours of TV per night.
Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine's Dr. Toru Shirakawa, an author of the study, said the study is particularly relevant to Americans, who typically watch more television than Japanese adults. A recent study, in fact, found 70 percent of Americans participate in “marathon” viewing sessions.
“Nowadays, with online video streaming, the term ‘binge-watching’ to describe viewing multiple episodes of television programs in one sitting has become popular,” Shirakawa said in a press release. “This popularity may reflect a rapidly growing habit.”
Lead researcher Hiroyasu Iso, professor of public health at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, said binge-watchers could take simple steps similar to those for long-distance flyers to reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism.
“After an hour or so, stand up, stretch, walk around, or while you’re watching TV, tense and relax your leg muscles for 5 minutes,” Iso said in a press release. For the long-term, TV enthusiasts could also drink more water and shed a couple pounds, if overweight, to reduce risk, Iso said.