Working Too Hard May Make You Hit the Bottle Harder

People who work more than 48 hours a week consume 'risky' alcohol amounts: study
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2015 11:51 AM CST
Working Too Hard May Make You Hit the Bottle Harder
In this photo taken Aug. 6, 2012, a woman raises her $5 mai tai during happy hour at Roy's in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(Newser) – Working more than a standard 40-hour workweek (if that "standard" still even exists) won't only shave away at your R&R time: It may also cause you to drink more, the Guardian reports. Researchers found that individuals who put in 49 to 54 hours a week were 13% more likely to suck down "risky" amounts of alcohol than those who work 35 to 40 hours, while the poor dears who toiled away for 55 hours or more had a 12% higher risk, according to a study in the British Medical Journal. For the purposes of this study, "risky" alcohol use was considered to be more than 14 drinks a week for women or 21 drinks a week for men, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study used cross-sectional analysis of 61 studies with nearly 334,000 subjects from 14 countries, as well as additional "prospective" analysis of 20 more studies that looked at 100,000 people from nine countries.

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So why do those who put in so many hours put in more appearances at happy hour? A few theories: They may be decompressing from work stresses; it's built into their personalities (the same folks who work hard can't help but play hard); or those who suffer from insomnia or depression may take longer to work and be more apt to pick up the bottle, notes the Times. Although work-health expert Cassandra Okechukwu wrote in the study's accompanying editorial that those who have jobs experience lower rates of "problem alcohol consumption" and better recovery rates from alcohol abuse than the unemployed, these results warrant further examination: They indicate about 2 million people are adopting risky alcohol habits across labor forces in the participating nations. "Long working hours is an exposure that we cannot afford to ignore," Okechukwu writes. (Binge drinking could mess up your immune system.)

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