Working overtime may help your paycheck and give you a leg up in the office, but a new study suggests that women who log too many hours may have an increased risk of diabetes. Researchers in Canada found that woman who worked overtime increased their risk of diabetes, with published findings in Monday’s British Medical Journal Diabetes Research and Care.
Using medical records, researchers looked at the risk of developing diabetes in over 7,000 men and women ages 35 to 74 who were working different numbers of weekly hours. They found that one out of 10 people in the study developed diabetes, in particular, if they were men, older, and obese. Although women generally were less likely to get diabetes than men, here’s the interesting part: Women who worked overtime, or over 45 hours per week, were 62 percent more likely to get diabetes over those women who worked regular hours.
This is especially surprising given that the risk actually decreased in men working long hours. “The difference in paid and unpaid hours for men and women are probably why,” said Dr. Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet, the lead researcher on the study. “Women tend to do twice as much unpaid work, like household chores and other family duties.” All of that may contribute to increases in stress hormones, which affect blood sugar control.
If you cannot afford to work fewer hours to meet the traditional 40 hour work week, there are other steps that can be taken to lower risk. Researchers stressed that talking to your doctor about more frequent diabetes screenings, and increasing good habits that help maintain overall good health (such as exercising, not smoking, moderate use of alcohol, getting restful sleep, and healthy eating), are good places to start.
Women should also recognize that it is important and necessary to ask for help with other activities not done at work, including household and family responsibilities, if they are the primary caregivers.