Women who work long hours may enjoy the financial perks of their job but this may come with a high price. Findings of a new research revealed that women who spend long hours at work may have elevated risk for potentially life-threatening health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
For a new study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine on June 14, researchers looked at the data of nearly 7,500 individuals to analyze the link between serious diseases and hours worked.
The researchers took the average self-reported hours that the participants worked each week over a 32-year period and compared the duration of their work hours with incidences of chronic diseases.
Men who work for long hours were found to have higher likelihood for arthritis but none for the other chronic diseases. In women, however, there was a strong link between working long hours and chronic diseases.
The researchers found that risks started to climb in women who work for more than 40 hours per week but this gets worse for those who work for more than 50 hours per week. Those who have been working at an average of at least 60 hours per week for more than three decades had triple the risks for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
"Regularly working long hours over 32 years was significantly associated with elevated risks of heart disease, non-skin cancer, arthritis, and diabetes," the researchers wrote in their study. "The observed risk was much larger among women than among men."
One likely reason for the link between problematic medical history and long hours at work among women is their traditional role as homemakers. Working women's tasks do not end by the time they leave work because they typically still have a family to feed and housekeeping chores to do.
Earlier studies have already shown that working long hours and having stressful jobs may up risk for stroke. Many women in essence are doing two full time jobs at the same time and this takes a toll on their health.
"Women - especially women who have to juggle multiple roles - feel the effects of intensive work experiences and that can set the table for a variety of illnesses and disability," lead author Allard Dembe said.
The researchers said that employers and government regulators need to be aware of the risks posed by long hours of working especially among women who are required to regularly work beyond the 40-hour work week.