Working Long Hours Linked to Increased Risk of Diabetes in Women

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By : Suvarna Sheth

A new study finds women who work 45 hours or more each week may be inadvertently increasing their risk for diabetes.  Men who work the same number of hours were not affected.

The research published last week in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Carelooked at 7,065 people in various industries for a period of 12 years in Ontario, Canada.

Data was used from the 2003 Canadian Community Health survey, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) database for physician services, as well as the Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstract Database for hospital admissions.

The administrative data available in the OHIP database cannot distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  However, Dr. Gilbert-Ouimet, co-author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto says the study pertains “mainly to type 2 diabetes, as type 1 very rarely (less than 5%) develops among adults.”

The study authors concluded that among women, those who worked 45 hours or more per week had “a significantly higher risk of diabetes than women working between 35 and 40 hours per week.”

According to Gilbert-Ouimet, the incidence of diabetes tended to diminish in men as work hours increased, although this trend did not reach statistical significance.

“A potential explanation lies in the fact that more than a third of men working long hours in our sample were holding jobs involving combinations of sitting, standing and walking — more physically active jobs,” she says.

“These occupations have previously been linked to a reduction in the risk of heart diseases among men,” she adds.

Researchers found the effect was slightly reduced when adjusted for smoking and alcohol consumption.

As well as looking at how many hours were worked, researchers considered other factors including sex, marital status, ethnicity, place of birth, lifestyle, health conditions, weight, and body mass index.

Researchers could not determine a definite correlation between long hours and developing diabetes, however, they conclude “identifying modifiable risk factors such as long work hours is of major importance to improve prevention strategies and orient policymaking.”

Also, they suggest that “promoting a regular workweek of 35–40 hours might be an effective strategy for preventing diabetes among women.”