When you discover a really good boxset it’s all too tempting to watch the entire series back-to-back.
But new research suggests watching a lot of television every day may increase your risk of death, by upping the chance of you getting a blood clot in the lungs.
The scientists found that for every additional two hours of TV watching a person completes per day, they increase their risk of blood clot by 40%.
A lung blood clot, known medically as a pulmonary embolism, usually begins as a clot in the leg or pelvis as a result of inactivity and slowed blood flow.
If the clot breaks free, it can travel to a lung and become lodged in a small blood vessel, where it is especially dangerous.
During the study, which began in 1988, Japanese researchers asked more than 86,000 participants aged 40-79 how many hours they spent watching TV.
Over the next 19 years, 59 participants died of a pulmonary embolism.
The researchers also found that compared to participants who watched TV less than 2.5 hours each day, deaths from a pulmonary embolism increased by:
70% among those who watched TV from 2.5 to 4.9 hours per day.
40% for each additional two hours of daily TV watching.
2.5 times among those who watched TV five or more hours per day.
After the number of hours spent watching TV, obesity appeared to have the next strongest link to pulmonary embolism.
“Pulmonary embolism occurs at a lower rate in Japan than it does in Western countries, but it may be on the rise,” co-author Hiroyasu Iso of Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine said.
“The Japanese people are increasingly adopting sedentary lifestyles, which we believe is putting them at increased risk.”
The authors noted that the risk is likely greater than the findings suggest.
They pointed out that participants’ viewing habits were recorded before computers, tablets and smartphones became popular sources of information and entertainment, so the results may not reflect the current situation.
The authors believe new studies are needed to determine the effect of these new technologies on pulmonary embolism risk.
“Nowadays, with online video streaming, the term ‘binge-watching’ to describe viewing multiple episodes of television programs in one sitting has become popular,” lead author Toru Shirakawa said.
“This popularity may reflect a rapidly growing habit.”
Authors said people who watch a lot of TV can take several easy steps to reduce their risk of developing blood clots in their legs that may then move to their lungs.
“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,” said Iso, noting this advice is similar to that given to travellers on long plane flights.
He added that drinking water may also help and, in the long run, losing weight if you’re obese of overweight is likely to reduce risk.
The results are published in full in the American Heart Association’s journal ‘Circulation’.