Women who work for 45 hours or more a week may be associated with nearly 70 per cent increased risk of diabetes as compared to men or women who worked for 30 to 40 hours a week, a study has found. Longer-working men however did not face this risk. While it is an observational study, the researchers noted, that the reason may be because women might work longer hours, when all the household chores and family responsibilities are taken into account, the researchers said.
Long working hours might also prompt a chronic stress response in the body, so increasing the risk of hormonal abnormalities and insulin resistance. Interestingly, the length of the working week wasn’t associated with a heightened risk of the disease among men. If anything, the incidence of diabetes tended to fall, the longer a man’s working week was, the results showed.
“Considering the rapid and substantial increase of diabetes prevalence worldwide, identifying modifiable risk factors such as long work hours is of major importance to improve prevention and orient policy making, as it could prevent numerous cases of diabetes and diabetes-related chronic diseases,” said the team including Mahee Gilbert-Ouimet from the Research Center of the Quebec University Hospital – Laval University, in Canada.
For the study, published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, the researchers tracked the health data of 7,065 workers aged between 35 and 74 years for a period of 12 years. Based on weekly working paid and unpaid hours, the participants’ were grouped into four time bands: 15-34 hours; 35-40 hours; 41-44 hours; and 45 or more hours.
The results showed that overworking among women was associated with 63 per cent of higher risk of diabetes among women where as incidence of diabetes in men was found mainly among older age groups, and those who were obese. Global estimates indicate that 439 million adults will be living with diabetes by 2030 — an increase of 50 per cent on the figures for 2010. In 2015 alone, diabetes cost the global economy $1.31 trillion.