Working long hours linked to heavier drinking

Working long hours appears to drive people to drink more alcohol, according to an international study published January 13, 2015 in the journal BMJ (British Medical Journal). Scientists studied data on more than 430,000 people in 14 countries. Workers who clocked more than 48 hours per week were up to 13% more likely to be “risky” drinkers compared with those who worked 35-40 hours a week. Drinking more than 14 drinks a week for women and more than 21 drinks for men was considered risky drinking, and may boost risk of heart disease, stroke, liver problems, cancer, and other conditions.

While the percentage increase in risky alcohol use among those working longer hours might seem small, it could mean that more than 2 million people in the countries studied may be drinking to cope with heavy work schedules, according to Cassandra Okechukwu, assistant professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Any exposure associated with avoidable increases in disease or health-damaging behavior, or both, warrants careful examination,” Okechukwu wrote in an editorial accompanying the study.

Read a Los Angeles Times article: Workaholics are more likely to drink too much alcohol, study says

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