TIME Research

Step Away From the Remote: Too Much TV Increases Risk For Early Death

Watching TV for too long means sitting for too long

New research reports that adults who watch three or more hours of TV a day may double their risk of premature death.

The new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association studied 13,284 young and healthy Spanish university graduates and assessed risk of early death from three sedentary behaviors: TV watching, computer time and driving time. They didn’t find any associations with computer time and driving, but they report that the risk for death was two times higher for participants who watched three or more hours at a time, even when the study authors accounted for other factors related to early death.

The findings are still considered preliminary, though this is not the first time researchers have found seriously worrisome effects from watching too much TV (for instance, it can go along with eating too much junk).

The reality is that there’s nothing coming out of the TV that’s going to kill you, but sitting in front of the TV for hours on end means you are not basically not moving at all. We already know that sitting for prolonged periods is really bad for your health, and TV is one of the most common ways to forget about exercise.

The American Heart Association says it recommends people get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week.

TIME Sudan

Sudanese Woman Cleared of Death Sentence Arrested Again

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Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a 27-year-old Christian Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for apostasy, sits in her cell a day after she gave birth to a baby girl at a women's prison in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman AFP/Getty Images

A Sudanese woman was arrested once again a day after a court overturned her death sentence issued on charges of apostasy, her lawyer told Bloomberg News.

A Sudanese court sentenced Meriam Yehia Ibrahim to die after she refused to renounce her Christian faith. Ibrahim has said she was raised Christian by her Ethiopian mother, and she married a Christian man. Ibrahim, 27, gained national attention after she was arrested, beaten and forced to give birth in a jail cell.

A day after her release, Ibrahim was taken into custody by members of Sudan’s national intelligence and security services as she tried to board a flight leaving Sudan.

Ibrahim’s husband and two children were taken into custody as well.

“There is no legal basis for this, it is an arbitrary arrest,” her lawyer, Elshareef Ali, said.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Accident

Florida Man Killed in ‘Horrifying’ Wood Chipper Accident

Cleanup of the scene lasted well into the night

Authorities in Florida say a tree service worker died on Monday after he accidentally fell into a wood chipper.

“You hear about this stuff in the movies, but then all of the sudden it happens right outside your door step,” Joseph Horta, a nearby resident, told CBS Miami. “All the sudden I hear all these sirens and I look outside and I see some piles of blood. It was horrifying.”

The victim, whose name is being withheld until his family is notified, fell into the teeth of the machine and his body was pulled completely through. Cleanup on the street reportedly lasted well into the evening.

“This isn’t something you see every day,” Davie Police Capt. Dale Engle said. “It’s not something you can just go home and forget about.”

There were 11 wood chipper deaths between 2000 and 2013, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

[CBS Miami]

TIME States

Georgia Toddler Dies in Hot Car

The father of the 22-month-old was supposed to take him to day care on Wednesday, but went straight to work instead, leaving the child strapped in the hot car

An Atlanta-area toddler died Wednesday after being left in a car for hours, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The death comes amid a statewide campaign led by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to prevent child deaths in hot cars over the blazing summers.

The body was found Wednesday afternoon after the child’s father realized the 22-month-old had been strapped in a car seat all day. The dad was supposed to take the child to day care on Wednesday morning, but went directly to work instead. The high in Cobb County, the suburb where the child died, was 100 degrees.

The father stopped at a shopping-center parking lot to seek help, but the child did not survive. Authorities are reportedly questioning the father.

In late May, Deal launched the “Look Again” campaign, a partnership with early-education officials to warn adults that in “minutes the inside of your car can become a death trap for a child.”

[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

TIME Health Care

Most Americans Are Totally Fine With Euthanasia

7 in 10 Americans say they support physicians legally ending patients' lives painlessly, though fewer support "physician assisted suicide."

Seven out of 10 Americans support euthanasia, according to a new Gallup poll, continuing a consistent trend showing that Americans are generally in favor of laws that allow doctors to end patients’ lives in a painless manner.

The poll results come just days after the death of famed radio host Casey Kasem, whose family publicly quarreled over his end-of-life care. Gallup notes that the poll was conducted before Kasem’s death, which came following a battle with dementia.

Though a majority of Americans support euthanasia, frequent churchgoers are less likely to support it. Only about 48% of weekly church attendees say they approve of doctors “ending a patient’s life by some painless means,” compared to 74% of those who go nearly weekly and 82% of those who go less often.

Americans are also less likely to support euthanasia when it’s presented as “physician assisted suicide:” only about 58% of those surveyed supported the procedure when it was phrased in such a way.

Gallup surveyed 1,028 American adults between May 8 and May 11 for the poll. There is a margin of error of four percentage points.

TIME News

Little Boy Finds Mummified Body in Empty House Because Horror Movies Are Real

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Mummy Getty Images

Yes, this is real life

A curious 12-year-old boy ventured into a semi-hidden abandoned house in Dayton, Ohio Sunday. He then found a mummified corpse hanging by a rope in the closet.

This isn’t a viral marketing stunt for the next season of American Horror Story. The movie-trope occurred in real life, and the body of resident Edward Bruton is thought to have been hanging there since 2009. Being stored in the closet may have helped prevent the body from decomposing too heavily.

While the coroner suspects suicide, no official cause of death has been determined.

[CNN]

TIME Accident

Hoarder Dies When House Collapses From All Her Stuff

First floor collapsed into the basement

A Connecticut woman who police described as an apparent hoarder was found dead Saturday after the first floor of her house collapsed under the weight of all her clutter.

Police went to Beverly Mitchell’s home in Cheshire, Conn., on Friday after a mail carrier said she hadn’t picked up her mail in almost two weeks. They found that the first floor had collapsed into the basement because of the weight of all the clutter in the house, the Cheshire Citizen reports.

“The contents of that room caved in on top of her,” Sgt. Kevin O’Donnell said, adding that local police had to call in backup and equipment from Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security in order to continue the search. Mitchell’s body was finally found with the help of cadaver dogs on Saturday, but searchers had to cut into the side of the house in order to get in.

“She was a hoarder,” O’Donnell told the Citizen. “This was an accidental death caused by disrepair.”

O’Donnell said police saw stacks of clutter that reached the ceiling in some places.

[Cheshire Citizen]

TIME Television

Game of Thrones: Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About Oberyn Martell

Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell
Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) shares a moment with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). Macall B. Polay / HBO

It's not just because of that one scene. Well, it's a little because of that one scene

NOTE: Spoilers from Season 4 of Game of Thrones below.

Last week’s Game of Thrones spent all of its time at the Wall, and though I tried as best I could to focus on the stunning visuals of the episode, my mind was still stuck in King’s Landing. Hell, it’s still stuck in King’s Landing. All because George R.R. Martin, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had built up Oberyn Martell as the hero that Westeros (and Tyrion Lannister) needed, only to have his head popped like a grape instead of allowing him to exact his revenge.

More so than with any previous death, even those of Ned and Robb Stark, fans were indignant: Was Martin simply being cruel? Was cruelty itself the point?

There’s no one thing that you can point to that would explain why Oberyn’s death was so affecting, so perhaps it’s best start with the most obvious one, alluded to above: he was a hero — one that that show very much seemed to need. With the most prominent members of the Stark family all murdered, Jon Snow practically a world away on the Wall and Daenerys in no particular hurry to cross the Narrow Sea, Oberyn was a rare, apparently untainted beacon of hope in the show’s most prominent location.

More than that, he had belief in himself. Oberyn very clearly saw himself as the protagonist not only of his own story but of a much larger one as well — one that involved Kings Landing and the Lannisters and revenge and justice. Ned Stark may have fought for honor, but we never quite knew why, other than that honor was what he believed in. But for most of us, we can’t really identify with some vague concept of honor, can’t root for honor — especially in a world that so clearly believes there’s no place for it.

Revenge, on the other hand, now that we can most certainly understand. Robb Stark fought for vengeance, but not at all costs and not with nearly the same magnetism that Oberyn did. We heard of Robb’s triumphs but rarely saw them, and before his murder we began to realize that he had too much of his father in him to ever exact the kind of revenge that the Game of Thrones universe demands: ruthless and entirely unadulterated.

From the moment we met Oberyn in a King’s Landing brothel, commanding the room effortlessly and declaring his hatred of the Lannisters with his tongue and his blade, it was clear he wouldn’t suffer the same difficulties that befell Robb Stark. Just as importantly, he was fun. Oberyn seemed to love (and live) life to the fullest without ever losing sight of why he came to King’s Landing in the first place. Ned Stark was never fun. Robb Stark gained confidence but never had that — for lack of a better term — swagger that Oberyn exuded whenever he appeared on screen.

In his final days, Oberyn somehow managed to both come to the rescue of the show’s most popular character while simultaneously making huge progress in his quest for vengeance. The prospect of squaring off in single combat against the Mountain — a man that struck fear in the hearts of virtually everyone in Westeros — did not scare Oberyn; it excited him. From the moment he stepped into the arena with the Mountain, Oberyn displayed the same sort of flashy confidence that had made him so enticing in earlier episodes when the only weapon he’d used was his words.

I’d have to guess that when most of us— on the rare occasion that we might do so — imagine ourselves in life-or-death combat, we don’t think of ourselves as the hulking, nearly 8-foot, 420-lb giant. We would think of ourselves as the other guy, with whatever skills that person might possess. and for Oberyn, those skills were manifold. They helped him put Westeros’ most feared warrior on his back, just one blow away from death. But the moment Oberyn looked at Ellaria and they smiled at each other, he signed his death warrant. After all, the quickest way to know something terrible is about to happen to a popular Game of Thrones character is when they’re happy.

Oberyn certainly was. He was one step closer to exacting his revenge. The Mountain was never meant to be the end — he was only one more step in Oberyn’s plan for vengeance against the Lannisters. That’s a big part of the reason his death felt like such a gut-punch. For a few moments there, we were all Oberyn Martell. There was so much more of his story — a story that seemed like a triumphant one — that was left to be told. Now it never will.

TIME Infectious Disease

Saudi Arabia Revises MERS Death Toll Up 48%

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A Saudi man walks towards the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, 370 kms East of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on June 16, 2013. FAYEZ NURELDINE—AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia confirmed Tuesday an additional 113 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), dramatically raising the kingdom’s caseload to a total of 688.

Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry released the revised figures after officials conducted a deeper review of the nation’s medical records. In addition to the heavier caseload, officials raised the virus’ death toll by 48% from 190 to 282 known deaths.

“While the review has resulted in a higher total number of previously unreported cases,” read a statement from Tariq Madani, head of the ministry’s scientific advisory board, “we still see a decline in the number of new cases reported over the past few weeks.”

Saudi Arabia dismissed its Deputy Health Minister Doctor Ziad Memish on Tuesday, without elaborating on the reasons for his dismissal, Reuters reports. The sacking comes only six weeks after Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabeeah was fired amid rising MERS infection rates.

[Reuters]

TIME health

Why Your Doctor Probably Has a “Do Not Resuscitate” Order

Doctors know that aggressive end of life care can be a waste of money—and painful. Yet that's exactly what happens when Americans die

The greatest success of the American medical system is also its greatest failure. Thanks to amazing advances in biomedicine, doctors can keep you living long after you would have passed away in earlier years. Today a 65-year-old man can expect to live past age 82, and a 65-year-old woman can expect to live even longer. But those extra years can come at a terrible cost. Millions of Americans spend the last few years of their lives in and out of hospitals, racking up huge medical bills. A quarter of the total Medicare budget is spent on the last year of recipients’ lives, with 40% of that money going to their final 30 days. Worse than those billions, though, is the physical and psychological pain that accompanies aggressive end-of-life treatment. Intubations, dialysis, feeding tubes, invasive tests—for far too many Americans, the last phase of life is spent in a hospital intensive care unit, hooked up to machines.

It’s a terrible fate, as doctors only know too well. That’s why it shouldn’t be surprising that researchers in a new study in the journal PLOS ONE found that 88.3% of doctors surveyed reported that they would choose to forgo this kind of treatment if they were dying of a terminal illness. Yet even though they know how painful and futile those treatments are for dying patients—and would refuse them if the situations were reversed—doctors still find themselves carrying out those procedures on their own patients. “Physicians know it’s not the right thing to do, but we find ourselves participating in treatment that causes pain and suffering for our patient,” says Dr. VJ Periyakoil, the director of the Stanford Palliative Care Education and Training Program and the lead author of the paper. “Families are traumatized and there is a huge financial cost to the individual and the nation.”

Doctors aren’t alone. Periyakoil notes that surveys have found that more than 80% of patients say they wish to avoid frequent hospitalizations and high-intensity care at the end of their lives. So why then are so many Americans dying in exactly opposite the fashion that they and their doctors desire? Blame the same medical technology that has helped Americans live longer than ever before. Hospitals and doctors are reimbursed for carrying out procedures, whatever the end result. “The default of the medical system is to doing all possible technological care,” says Periyakoil. “It simply doesn’t make it easy to do the right thing.”

Medical schools bear some of the blame as well. Periyakoil notes that students are taught to extend their patients’ lives if at all possible, but they’re not taught how to speak to their patients and families about the reality of end-of-life care. That’s especially important because elderly, terminally ill patients are rarely in a position where they are capable of expressing their wishes, which too often leaves the decision up to the closest family members. And it’s hardly surprising that, faced with the possibility of losing a loved one, family members opt for whatever care is needed, no matter the financial or human cost. Periyakoil herself has spoken with the family of a terminally ill patient and gently suggested withdrawing extreme treatment, only to have the family push back. “We can present the options, but ultimately I have to defer to them,” she says.

Periyakoil says she published the study in part to show ordinary people what their doctors actually thought about intensive end of life care, with the hope that they would reconsider the need to extend the lives of their loved ones at all cost. This is fraught territory—just look at the hysteria over the so-called “death panels” during the initial Obamacare debates in 2009. But these conversations must be had, on the national level and the personal one. It’s projected that 26.1% of the U.S. population will be 65 or older by 2030, up from 12.8% now, and if intensive care remains the norm, costs will continue to balloon, while the elderly and the terminally ill will continue to suffer—as will their doctors standing witness to that pain.

“My goal is to prolong life—not prolong the dying process,” says Periyakoil. “We have to fix this.”

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