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Hard work can drive you to drink, say researchers

Date: 24 Feb 2015

An overview of studies covering more than 400,000 people showed that individuals who exceed 48 working hours per week are likelier to consume "risky" quantities of alcohol. 


The paper, published in the British Medical Journal, reported that long working hours boosted the likelihood of higher alcohol intake by 11% overall. People who worked 49-54 hours a week ran a 13% higher risk of developing a "risky alcohol use" habit compared to counterparts who worked a 35-40-hour work week. Those working 55 hours or more were 12% more at risk.

"Risky" alcohol use was defined as more than 14 units per week for a woman and more than 21 for a man - levels that have been linked to a higher risk for liver and heart disease, cancer, stroke and mental disorders.
An alcohol unit is the equivalent of a third of a pint of medium-strength beer, half a 175ml (six fluid ounces) glass of red wine with 12% alcohol by volume, or a 25ml shot of whisky.

The findings add statistical backing to anecdotal evidence for a link between excessive work and alcohol abuse, the authors said. More than a dozen developed economies were covered by the research, including Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the United States.

Costs of Ill Health

In 2006 around 175 million working days were lost due to illness and it is estimated that the annual economic costs of sickness absence and worklessness is over £100 billion.  (Working for a healthier tomorrow, Department of Health, March 2008). 

Stress

One in five people report feeling extremely stressed at work

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