According to a new study, women who work longer hours are more susceptible to getting diabetes, and that if they work fewer hours, their risk of diabetes will get lower.
A team of researchers studied data from more than 7,000 Canadians who were tracked for 12 years. They found that women who consistently worked 45 hours or more every week had a 63 percent increased risk of diabetes compared with those who only worked between 35 and 40 hours in the same period.
The findings were published July 2 in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care journal.
Will Longer Hours Increase Risk Of Diabetes Among Women?
Surprisingly, men who worked longer hours did not have the same increased diabetes risk. It's not clear why this is the case, but the researchers speculate it has something to do with the activities women do off-work.
"If you think about all the unpaid work they do on their off-hours, like household chores for example, they simply do more than men, and that can be stressful, and stress negatively impacts your health," according to the University of Toronto's Mahee Gilbert-Ouimet, coauthor of the study.
The worst part is that women who work longer hours tend to be paid less than their male counterparts, who are often put in better-paying jobs. Even when both genders do similar work, women end up getting paid less, said Gilbert-Ouimet. Women in the workforce must be studied further, she says, as "there are still big inequalities" upon closer inspection.
The Connection Between Diabetes And Being Overworked
Several studies have shown associations between being overworked and getting diabetes. One such study in Japan, published in 2016, saw a connection between diabetes risk and workers who labored for more than 45 hours of regular daytime schedule work. Other studies also show that being overworked brings a number of other negative health effects aside from increased diabetes risk, including heart disease and stroke.
The study adds to the growing awareness of how abnormal work hours affect overall health. Previous studies have shown that extended work hours is related to an increased risk of developing diabetes, but only among individuals who belong in lower socioeconomic categories. Most of these studies, however, often only involve men, and the absence of women leaves a gaping hole in their data pool.
Gilbert-Ouimet says she hopes her team's study can lead to conversations about the role long work hours play in health, especially among women who are already at risk of diabetes for various other factors.
"[I]t's a nice wake-up call to know what long hours can do to your body and to your health, and maybe force yourself to do a bit less and take care of yourself more."