Emily Baines
Updated Jul 29, 2016 @ 3:02 pm
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Well, there go my plans to spend the weekend binge-watching Netflix. (I’m terribly behind on Orange Is The New Black, guys, it’s super embarrassing.) According to a new study, people who watch television for five or more hours a day have more than twice the risk of dying of a blood clot in the lung than those who watch less TV.

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The study, conducted in Japan, was co-authored by Dr. Hiroyasu Iso, professor of public health at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine. He had long suspected that his countrymen’s increased sedentary lifestyle was harmful to their health.

Dr. Iso suspected prolonged television viewing was bad for our health way before the invention of Netflix or binge watching. Between 1988 and 1990, Iso and his colleagues asked over 85,000 adults 40 to 79 years old in Japan how many hours they spent watching television, then followed the participants for the next 19 years watching for deaths from pulmonary embolism. They also collected information on obesity, diabetes, cigarette smoking, and high blood pressure, and tried to rule these factors out in the relationship between TV and blood clots.

Though only 59 of the participants died of pulmonary embolism, when those participants are compared to the participants who watched two and a half hours of TV or less per day, those who watched five or more hours were 2.5 times as likely to die of a clot. That’s a startling increase in likelihood! Is watching every episode of Stranger Things in a row really worth it? (Maybe? I mean, I really love Barb.)

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Dr. Isho and his team then calculated that among people who watched less than two and a half hours of TV, the rate of deaths from pulmonary embolism were 2.8 per 100,000 people per year, compared to a rate of 8.2 deaths per 100,000 per year for those who watched five or more hours daily. That’s quite the difference.

In other words, risk of death by pulmonary embolism increased by 40% for each additional two hours of daily TV watching!!!

Dr. Christopher Karhel, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said this when he learned of the study:

In other words: we better get out there and start going for walks, especially when considering the fact that Americans are a great deal more sedentary than the Japanese. As Dr. Karhel warns:

“The results do not seem to be country-specific. Being sedentary is bad for you wherever you live.”