Workaholics More Susceptible to Risky Drinking

By McCarton Ackerman 01/21/15

Longer hours could make one more susceptible to abusing alcohol and the associated health risks.

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A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that those who work more than 48 hours per week are more likely to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol, making them more susceptible to alcohol abuse.

Researchers in Finland analyzed data from 333,693 people in 14 countries, concluding that those with longer working hours are 11% more likely to abuse alcohol. Women with long work hours tended to drink at least two glasses of wine per night, while men with long work hours drank at least three pints on average. There were no other differences seen between men and women, or by age, income, or region.

Dr. Marianna Virtanen, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, said the increase in alcohol consumption among those who worked more were disconcerting due to alcohol abuse being associated with cirrhosis, cancers, and seizure disorders.

Men and women are more likely to get cancer of the mouth, neck, and throat, while women are also more susceptible to breast cancer. She suggested the correlation between long hours and alcohol abuse “might involve the work environment as well as individual characteristics…one view is that alcohol use alleviates stress that is caused by work pressure and working conditions.”

The European Union Working Time Detective (EUWT) has guaranteed that residents of EU countries don’t have to work more than 48 hours per week, including overtime. Despite this, however, many work much longer hours for the sake of promotions and salary increases. The alcohol abuse associated with these extra hours also contributes to increased sick days, impairments in performance, and greater numbers of occupational injuries.

The National Health Service in Britain recommends that men drink no more than two pints of beer per day and women no more than one large glass of wine. However, separate research published last year found that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK drink at least a half bottle of wine each night. One in five UK residents now drink too much and nearly 10 million people are admitted to hospitals each year for alcohol-related issues.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.