Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Long work hours may hike women’s diabetes risk by 70%

Long work hours may hike women’s diabetes risk by 70%

Study researcher Mahee Gilbert-Ouimet, from the University of Toronto, and colleagues found that women who worked at least 45 hours per week have 63 percent higher risk of developing diabetes compared with those who work between 35 and 40 hours per week.

Looking at how social and environmental factors influence our health, Canadian researchers sought to explore how long work hours influence health.

Women who work for 45 hours or more a week may be associated with almost 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.

It said reducing working hours could prevent "numerous cases" of diabetes, while 'high family responsibilities may intensify the engage in unhealthy behaviours'.

However, no association was found between working hours and diabetes in men, and if anything the more hours a man worked, the more his risk of the condition dropped. Many spend non-work hours doing household chores and caring for children, more so than their male counterparts, the study states. While working long hours increased women's risk of diabetes, researchers did not see a similar effect in men.

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Working between 35 and 40 hours was not associated with an increased risk.

During the study period, one in 10 people developed diabetes.

There's also a suggestion by Gilber-Ouimet and her team that based on the survey group, men in the study had more physically laborious roles, with only eight per cent of women identifying periods of standing during their work days. Changes in cortisol can affect the body's insulin levels and its ability to break down sugar.

Gilbert-Ouimet hopes that the results stimulate conversations among doctors and their patients about the role that long work hours can play in compromising health - especially among women who might already have other risk factors for developing diabetes. All that extra outside work can contribute to stress, which can negatively impact a woman's health. "I think physicians should ask the question of how many hours a week their patients work", she says.

Obesity and weight problems can also influence an individual's risk for diabetes.

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