Scientists from the University of Cambridge found that watching too much TV is linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease regardless of a person’s genetic makeup.
They found that 11% of cases of coronary heart disease could be prevented if people watched less than an hour of TV each day.
The research is published in BMC Medicine and was conducted by Dr. Youngwon Kim et al.
One of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease is sedentary behavior—in other words, sitting for long periods of time rather than being physically active.
In the study, the team examined data from the U.K. Biobank, a study that includes over 500,000 adults who have been followed up prospectively for about 12 years.
The team created polygenic risk scores for each individual—that is, their genetic risk of developing coronary heart disease.
They found people with higher polygenic risk scores were at the greatest risk of developing the condition.
People who watched more than four hours of TV per day were at the greatest risk of the disease, regardless of their genetic risks.
Compared to these individuals, people who watched two to three hours of TV a day had a relatively 6% lower rate of developing the condition, while those who watched less than an hour of TV had a relatively 16% lower rate.
These associations were independent of genetic susceptibility and other known risk factors.
The team also found that leisure time spent using a computer did not appear to influence disease risk.
This study provides unique insights into the potential role that limiting TV viewing might have in preventing coronary heart disease.
Individuals who watch TV for less than one hour a day were less likely to develop the condition, independent of their genetic risk.
The team says limiting the amount of time sat watching TV could be a useful, and relatively light touch, a lifestyle change that could help individuals with a high genetic predisposition to coronary heart disease in particular to manage their risk.
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