Is Binge Watching TV Killing You? New Study Suggests Risks

A new study found a connection between early death and watching a lot of TV

By Chris Harnick Jun 26, 2014 1:59 PMTags
Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston, Aaron PaulFrank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Binge watching TV is the best! But apparently it might kill you.

It's been nice knowing you, guys.

According to a new study, all your hours in front of the TV watching several episodes at a time may increase the risk of early death. New research published in the Journal of American Heart Association found that adults who watch TV for three or more hours a day may double their risk of early death compared to viewers who watch less TV.

"Television viewing is a major sedentary behavior and there is an increasing trend toward all types of sedentary behaviors," Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., the study's lead author and professor and chair of the Department of Public Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, said in a statement. "Our findings are consistent with a range of previous studies where time spent watching television was linked to mortality."

In the study, researched assessed 13,284 Spanish university graduated described as "young and healthy," their average age was 37 and 60 percent of them were women. The study focused on the association between three types of (fairly common) behaviors—TV viewing time, driving time and computer time—and the risk of death. Researchers followed the study participants for a median of 8.2 years and reporter 97 deaths with 19 attributed to cardiovascular causes, 46 from cancer and 32 from other causes. The study found the risk of death was two times higher for participants who reported watching three or more hours of TV a day.

Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix

"As the population ages, sedentary behaviors will become more prevalent, especially watching television, and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to aging," Dr. Martinez-Gonzalez said. "Our findings suggest adults may consider increasing their physical activity, avoid long sedentary periods, and reduce television watching to no longer than one to two hours each day."

According to the study, researchers found no real association between time spent using a computer or driving and higher risk of premature death from all causes. But researchers said further study is needed to confirm what effects may exist between computer use and driving and death. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week with a mix of moderate to high muscle strengthening two days a week.

Meanwhile, in related news, TiVo reports Breaking Bad is the most-binged show around. So, Walter White might kill you. At least it's not with poison, a bike lock, a bomb or an automated machine gun in a trunk.

House of Cards and Game of Thrones followed Breaking Bad in the binge watch study. Other popular shows that people watch in large quantities: The Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, Star Trek (any version), Homeland, Mad Men, Doctor Who and NCIS.

PHOTOS: Want to tempt your fate? 17 shows to binge watch this summer!