TV's been accused of lowering IQs... but is the idiot box also a murderer?

A new study seems to find a connection between too much time in front of the television and an early death.

Researchers tracked the TV-viewing habits of 8,800 adults and found that those who watched four or more hours per day were 80 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 46 percent more likely to die from any cause during the study period than those who watched two hours or less.

Since none of the participants had a history of heart disease before the study, researchers believe there's a connection.

I don't think anyone will dispute that too much TV isn't the best thing in the world. After all, every hour in front of the tube is another hour missing out on the things that can improve our lives--like exercise and spending time with family and friends.

But I have a hard time believing it's deadly by itself.

The study had some even more unusual conclusions. The researchers said every additional hour in front of the TV increased the risk of death by heart disease by 18 percent... and the risk of death from any other cause by 11 percent.

Extrapolate that, and it basically means anyone who watches a little more than five hours of TV a day is 100 percent more likely to die from heart disease (assuming we start from four hours/80 percent).

Those are tough odds to beat.

The study, published on the Web site of the American Heart Association's Circulation journal, seems more like an exercise in mind-bending stats than anything else.

While researchers followed 8,800 people, just 284 died during the study period, or around 3 percent of the subjects. Seems more likely that it's simply hard to draw big conclusions from such a small number.

Still, there's no denying there are better ways to spend your time. Too much TV may not kill you... but it probably can drive you insane.