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Does Long Hours At Work Lead To Diabetes?

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You might not know this but working late hours has the potential to lead to chronic diseases. There had been a recent finding that type 2 diabetes might be one of them.

Mahee Gilbert-Ouimet, an epidemiologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto along with her team studied 7,000 workers in Canada for about 12 years to conclude whether diabetes is associated with their working till late hours. IBMJ Diabetes Research & Care came up with a report that shows how women who work over 45 hours a week had a 51% chance of developing diabetes as compared to those working for 35 to 40 hours a week. They found the opposite in the case of men.

“I was surprised to see the somewhat protective effect of longer working hours among men,” admits Gilbert-Ouimet, “Among women, we know women tend to assume a lot of family chores and responsibilities outside the workplace, so one can assume that working long hours on top of that can have an adverse effect on health.” They discovered that the effects were more severe on women under 12 years of age. Men who did long hours walking and standing were less affected than 8% of the women who worked long hours. Their study also resulted in the revelations that people living in lower socioeconomic status were more inclined to develop diabetes. She and her colleagues found that people working low-skilled jobs were more prone to develop the disease.

Since people working for over 40 hours can have stress levels so high it changes their hormones like cortisol, these findings may not be so surprising. Changes in cortisol have an impact on the insulin levels and the body’s pace in breaking down sugar. Stress can also affect sleep which in turn helps health, affecting the body’s weight and insulin levels ultimately leading to diabetes.

Gilbert-Ouimet wants this to be an eye-opener for doctors and patients to see to it that their lifestyle and working hours do not prompt a diabetes development. “I think physicians should ask the question of how many hours a week their patients work,” she explains, “And if women also have risk factors, then they should discuss more follow up visits or screening tests for diabetes.” She also adds, “it’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.”