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Does TV Watching Make You Sick? Not Exactly…

June 14, 2011 Leave a comment
File:Televison Hungarian ORION 1957.jpg

Beware! It might kill you! Photo Credit: Istvan Takacs

I’m a little annoyed with some headlines hitting a few news websites today:

TV Watching Raises Risk of Health problems, dying young

Excess TV time linked to early death

TV time tied to death, diabetes risk

The stories are talking about a study getting published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association

The study is a meta-analysis of 8 studies over the past 40 years which look at the correlation between watching television and risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study found, unsurprisingly, that increased television watching was correlated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The pooled relative risks per 2 hours of TV viewing per day were 1.20 (95% CI, 1.14-1.27) for type 2 diabetes, 1.15 (95% CI, 1.06-1.23) for fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular disease, and 1.13 (95% CI, 1.07-1.18) for all-cause mortality.

In layman’s terms, this means that for each 2 hours of television watched per day, risk of type 2 diabetes increased by about 20%, risk of developing fatal or non-fatal heart disease increased by about 15%, and risk of dying of any cause increased by about 13%.

So does watching TV make you sick? Not exactly.

I’m not doubting the results of the study, though they should be taken with the usual grain of salt that should be taken with all epidemiological studies.

They are observational studies, not controlled studies in a lab. There are many variables which can influence the results.

That being said, the results of the study are not surprising and I have every confidence that there is truth in there.

But the media takes these types of studies, gives them a sensationalized headline and doesn’t put them in the proper context.

Watching TV does not make you sick; being lazy makes you sick. What this study is really showing is that watching TV correlates to a lazy lifestyle.

There’s nothing wrong with kicking back and watching some Star Trek reruns or even *groan* Dancing with the Stars. Just make sure you go out for a jog now and then. Or play some basketball. Or just do anything that isn’t sitting around and being lazy!

I’m sure snacking is a big factor in the results of this study as well. No doubt increased time in front of the TV leads to eating more unhealthy foods.

But if you sit in front of the tube and eat baby carrots or oatmeal, then you are probably not at a huge risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.

So if you watch a lot of TV, you’re not necessarily going to die young because TV doesn’t make you sick.

But if you eat a lot of junk food and don’t exercise, then you might die young. But then again, THAT’S not exactly news, is it?

So, Seriously, is Coffee Good or Bad for Me?

June 21, 2010 1 comment

Mmmm… I love that first cup in the morning don’t you?

Coffee has had a busy couple of weeks in the science community.

Two studies have recently been released testing the health benefits/detriments of our dear bitter and delicious friend. And one FDA warning about coffee…but first the studies.

The first was not good news, though it was also not really surprising. It seems that, for regular coffee drinkers, coffee acts like any other stimulant. Basically, after repeated use, the “crash” you get after the caffeine wears off tends to last for quite awhile. Consuming more coffee, say, the next day, only acts to bring you back up to baseline; how you would feel had you never drank any coffee in the first place.

Again, not great news, but also not really surprising. It seems we are a huge culture of drug addicts.

The other study was a bit more uplifting. It seems that regular coffee consumption, roughly a few cups per day, could actually decrease your risk of heart disease by as much as one third. Alright!

Seems that a couple times a year a new study is released saying how bad/good coffee is for you. My advice? Everything in moderation. Coffee is not gonna hurt you too much if you just have a cup a day.

And as if that weren’t enough, the FDA has just released a warning against consuming a product called Magic Power Coffee. It seems this brand of instant coffee is being marketed as a sexual enhancer.

The FDA has asked the public to stop using this product, as it may cause dangerously low blood pressure if used with other blood pressure control drugs, or sexual enhancement drugs, like Viagara.

Wow. Ridiculous. People, if you are having trouble in the bedroom, go to the doctor. Not an internet based coffee company.

And don’t be one of those coffee tweakers who constantly has a cup on the go. You know who you are…