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Too Much Work Affects Women’s Health

Women's Health Women's Health
Phase 2

New research shows that women who work more than 60 hours per week are nearly three times more likely to develop heart disease, non-skin cancers, arthritis, and diabetes than those who work less.

Even women who worked less than 60 hours per week increased odds of getting chronic ailments as their hours increased—but not for men. The only increased risk for men was developing arthritis.

Dr. Stuart Zarich, chief of cardiology at Bridgeport Hospital stated that women have an increased risk of certain chronic conditions because they tend to have more stress in their lives than men because after work they have duties that men don’t.

This study was conducted by researchers at the Center for HOPES at Ohio State University’s College of Public Health and the Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery at Mayo Clinic.

Researchers examined data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth that covered 32 years of job history—1978 to 2009—for 7492 respondents. Participants who had an average age of 49.6 years were interviewed once a year between 1979 and 1994 and then every two years from 1996 to 2010. In the study, about 28 percent of the participants worked 30 to 40 hours per week, while 56 percent worked 41 to 50 hours per week, 13 percent worked 51 to 60 hours per week, and three percent worked more than 60 hours per week.

Over the 32-year span, researchers averaged respondents’ self-reported work hours and compared the time spent working with incidences of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, chronic lung disease, depression and high blood pressure.

While other studies have shown a link between working many hours and poor health outcomes, this study was unique because it examined outcomes in individuals over such a long timeframe.

Dr. Carrie Redlich, professor of medicine and director of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program at Yale School of Medicine, stated that people who work a lot may have worse sleep habits, poorer diets, and more stress than those working less, all of which can affect their health.

Alicia Dugan, assistant professor of medicine in UConn Health Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine stated that working long hours puts a lot of demand on yourself and you could potentially have poor health outcomes. She also stated that people who work long hours typically have less free time to engage in health behaviors like exercise, and many don’t take time to unwind.

This study was published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and in the Hartford Courant.

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