Employees Working Over 48 Hours a Week Likely to Consume Risky Level of Alcohol

A new study shows that people who work more than 48 hours per week are more likely to engage in risky alcohol consumption.

The global study that span across 14 countries said that the chance of seeking solace using alcohol by people who work long hours are more, than those who work normal weeks worldwide.

Risky alcohol consumption is considered as more than 14 drinks per week for women and more than 21 drinks per week for men.

The study of 330,000 people provides the first systematic analysis of the relationship between working hours and alcohol use. It is found that longer working hours have increased the likelihood of higher alcohol use by 11 percent.

Also, it is believed to increase risk of adverse health problems, including liver diseases, cancer, stroke, coronary heart disease and mental disorders.

A prospective analysis found a similar increase in risk of 12 percent for onset of risky alcohol use in 100,602 people from nine countries.

Individual participant data from 18 prospective studies showed that those who worked 49-54 hours and 55 hours per week or more were found to have an increased risk of 13 per cent and 12 per cent respectively of risky alcohol consumption compared with those who worked 35-40 hours per week.

The authors point out that no differences were seen between men and women or by age, socio-economic status or region.

“The workplace is an important setting for the prevention of alcohol misuse because more than half of the adult population are employed,” said lead researcher Marianna Virtanen, an epidemiologist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki and University College London.

Further research is needed to assess whether preventive interventions against risky alcohol use could benefit from information on working hours, the team added.

However, scientists already know there is a significant increase in physiological ill-effects associated with increasing working hours from 8 to 12 hours a day.

According to lead author Cassandra Okechukwu, an assistant professor at Harvard School of Public Health, “Given mounting pressure to exclude an increasing proportion of workers from current standards that limit working hours in Europe and other developed countries, long working hours is an exposure that we cannot afford to ignore.”

The study appeared in the journal BMJ.

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