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Working more than 45 hours a week can increase risk of diabetes

05 July 2018

Increased risk of type 2 diabetes is experienced by women - but not men - who work more than 45 hours a week, according to a new Canadian scientific study. Women who worked for longer hours were 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.

Gilbert-Ouimet's group suggested future studies should aim to look more closing at the specific pathways that intertwine work hours, health behaviors, lifestyle including familial responsibilities with the subsequent risk for diabetes, and specifically in respect to gender differences. Hours worked per week were stratified across four categories - 15-34 hours, 25-40 hours, 41-44 hours, and ≥45 hours worked each week.

This was especially surprising given that the study showed risk decreased in men working long hours.

"Considering the rapid and substantial increase of diabetes prevalence in Canada and worldwide, identifying modifiable risk factors such as long work hours is of major importance to improve prevention and orient policy making, as it could prevent numerous cases of diabetes and diabetes-related chronic diseases", they said. A study performed in 2006 even brought to light similar risks.

The team tracked participants' health using national health survey data and medical records, and also took into account other potentially influencing factors such as age, sex, marital status, ethnicity, any long term health conditions, and weight (BMI).

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While the reason behind this is still unclear, experts believe that if we count the unpaid work that women do like the household chores after coming back from work, women actually end up doing more work than men add more stress to their lives.

The study authors aren't sure why extra work may boost diabetes risk, or why this link was only found in women.

The study concluded that 10% of the participants developed diabetes. They also included factors such as shift work, number of weeks worked in a year, and whether a job was active or sedentary.

Though research papers in the past have shown how stress wears down our resilience to insulin, not much research has been conducted on how long work hours may lead to diabetes. "Think about the stress of working harder and getting less for it".

Among those who worked 45 or more hours a week the risk was significantly higher (63%) than it was among those who worked between 35 and 40 hours.

Working more than 45 hours a week can increase risk of diabetes