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Watching TV shortens human life span

A study done in Australia found that each hour of the day spent in front of a television set is linked with an increased (18 percent) risk of dying of cardiovascular disease and an 11 percent greater risk of all causes of death.

The study, released last week in “Circulation,” a journal of the American Heart Association, looked at health data among 8800 men and women older than 25 who were part of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study. Participants recorded their television viewing hours for a week, and researchers separated the results by amount of viewing: those who watched less than two hours of TV a day, those who watched two to four hours a day, and those who watched more than four hours a day.

The subjects also had oral glucose tolerance tests to determine blood sugar and gave blood samples to establish cholesterol levels at the beginning of the study. People with a history of cardiovascular disease were not included. In a follow up about six years later, 87 people had died due to cardiovascular disease and 125 of cancer.

Researchers found a strong connection between TV hours and death from cardiovascular disease, not just among the overweight and obese, but among people who had a healthy weight and exercised.

People who watched more than four hours a day showed an 80 percent greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 46 percent higher risk of all causes of death compared with those who watched fewer than two hours a day, suggesting that being sedentary could have general deleterious effects. The numbers were the same after the researchers controlled for smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, an unhealthy diet and leisure-time exercise.