Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Teetotallers take more days off sick than moderate drinkers, study finds

Teetotallers take more days off sick than moderate drinkers, study finds

The researchers, who were from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, then grouped participants into five categories based on their drinking, ranging from those who never touched alcohol to heavy party animals. Moderate drinkers, it appeared, were less likely to miss work compared to both the aforementioned groups.

The study looked at women who drank up to 11 units of alcohol a week and men who drank up to 34.

One would think that cutting off alcohol can do wonders with work attendance, but researchers say that abstaining isn't necessarily the answer. New research has revealed social drinkers take fewer days off sick than those who are teetotal. This was compared to people who claim they drink moderately or on occasion. Less surprisingly, those who drank over the moderate threshold were at an increased risk of absence due to injury or poisoning.

Non-drinkers and heavy drinkers were more likely to call out of work due to mental disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, diseases of the digestive system, and diseases of the respiratory system. Information regarding absences was obtained from the national and employer registry reports.

"Our findings demonstrate that the U-shaped association - higher risk of sickness absence among both abstainers and average drinkers - relates to a different set of diagnoses of sickness absence in the two groups", she explained.

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In the case of non-drinkers, however, the study did not imply that abstaining from alcohol causes health problems. Scientists of one of the departments of the European Agency for safety and health at work found that small amounts of alcohol improves health and prevents the risk of common diseases. "Moreover, participants to whom at-risk drinking causes health problems may be selected out from the labour market, that is, if they retire early or become unemployed".

"Drinking in moderation seems not to be associated with sickness absence", Ervasti tells ABC News.

Dr James Nicholls, director of research and policy development at Alcohol Research UK, said: 'The authors also found that abstainers were more likely to be poor, which is a very significant factor in ill-health. While the extreme ends of the drinking spectrum can call in sick more frequently, people who take their cocktails at a reasonable volume don't seem to see a negative effect on work attendance.

Experts have cited other limitations - such as the study being conducted in Europe, where lifestyle and drinking habits may be different than other place.

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