Longer hours in working higher risk of diabetes in women

July 11, 2018

Working overtime may help pay the bills, but it can be bad for your health. New research, published July 2 in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, has shown that too much toiling may elevate diabetes risk in women.

The study adds to a growing number of reports suggesting that overwork negatively affects well-being.

Based on an analysis of 7,065 workers over a 12-year period, researchers in Canada observed that women who usually work more than 45 hours per week had a 63 percent higher incidence of diabetes than women working between 35 and 40 hours per week. The result takes into account mediating factors such as smoking, leisure time, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and body mass index.

The study notes that the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) database, one of the data sets used in the analysis, does not distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

But this heightened risk was not observed among men.

“The risk increase among women isn’t trivial,” says one of the study’s authors, Cameron Mustard, PhD, an epidemiologist and senior scientist at the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto. “The question is why this elevated risk was not present for men, who have a higher incidence for the disease in general.”

In fact, the study found that the incidence of diabetes in men tended to decrease as their number of work hours increased.

Women may have less time for healthy habits

The research could not explain the imbalance between men and women. Dr. Mustard speculates that women who have more domestic responsibilities than men may have fewer hours to devote to physical exercise and nutrition.

He underscores that high body weight and low physical activity are two modifiable risk factors that are strongly associated with the onset of diabetes. Individuals who are super busy may not have time to address those issues.

Minisha Sood, MD, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, adds that hardworking women may have higher stress levels, which can play a role in diabetes.

“Women who work long hours still carry much of the household responsibility outside of work, which may increase stress levels and decrease the hours during which they may otherwise focus on healthy meal preparation, exercise, proper sleep, and stress reduction,” says Dr. Sood, who was not involved in the study. “Stress management is a critical factor in overall well-being, and increased levels of stress hormones are metabolically disadvantageous.”



Category: Features, Health alert

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