Working Long Hours Raises Heart Disease Risk As Much As 60 Percent
British philosopher and social critic Bertrand Russell once said "If I were a medical man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considers work important." A recent British/Finish study suggests Russell's statement was very wise.
Researchers from the University College London and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health looked at relevant data from the Whitehall II study, one which has followed the health of more than 10,000 British civil servants since 1985. Specifically, they obtained data on the work habits of approximately 6,000 persons, aged 39 to 61, over an average of 11 years.
They found that persons who often worked overtime, three hours or more beyond a normal 7 hour day, were 60 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease. One or two overtime hours did not show a pronounced increase in heart disease risk.
A ten-hour work day does not leave much time for rest, recreation, exercise, relaxation with family or friends, or much of anything. The stress associated with working long hours needs a way to dissipate before sleep, or sleep will be disturbed, putting one at greater risk for metabolic disturbances that lead to heart disease. Unfortunately, because there is so much unemployment right now, people often feel they have to work longer and harder to keep their jobs; that's pretty stressful in itself.
Because the study subjects were white-collared civil servants, the researchers cautioned that the data was not necessarily relevant to blue-collar workers; however, Dr John Challenor, from the British Society of Occupational Medicine, called it a significant study.
"In many ways it confirms what we as occupational health doctors already know – that work-life balance plays a vital role in wellbeing," he said. "Whilst research has shown that work is generally good for your health, we also know that an excess of work that is unremitting can have adverse health effects.
The full study is published in the European Heart Journal.
via The Guardian