If You’re a Hard-Working Woman, Those Overtime Hours Might Be Jeopardizing Your Health

According to science, working fewer hours may lower your risk of Diabetes.

AleksandarNakic/ Getty Images
AleksandarNakic/ Getty Images

You may have another reason to make sure you get home on time. According to new research published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, women are at higher risk of getting diabetes if they consistently spend long, strenuous hours at their jobs.

The study, conducted in Ontario, Canada, evaluated the relationship between long work hours and diabetes among over 7000 men and women, sampling a group of employed participants with no previous diagnoses of diabetes. After a twelve-year analysis, the results showed that working 45 hours or more per week was associated with increased incidence of diabetes among female participants, but not among the male participants.

The report did not include a definitive answer as to why there was a gendered difference in outcomes, but researchers on the project suspect it may have something to do with how women spend their time outside of work. “If you think about all the unpaid work they do on their off-hours, like household chores for example,” suggested co-author Mahee Gilbert-Ouimet, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, “they simply do more than men, and that can be stressful.”

The reality of the gender pay gap across fields may also contribute to the problem. “Even when men and women do similar work, women earn less,” Gilbert-Ouimet noted. “Think about the stress of working harder and getting less for it.”

Diabetes is estimated to directly affect over 439 million people by year 2030, according to CNN. There’s no doubt that prevention is important, and by acknowledging risk factors in specific genders, it seems that specificity is key. “It’s important for us to study women,” Gilbert-Ouimet stated. “They are still under-evaluated in most areas of health, and it’s a real shame, because if we look closer, there are still big inequalities.”

While we continue to fight for gender equality, it’s also important to make sure our organizations foster an open conversation about stress management and healthy workplace behaviors. After all, the environment where we spend most of our time is bound to affect our health, whether it’s mental or physical. “Workplaces should definitely help people work less,” Gilbert-Ouimet concluded. “Ultimately, their health depends on it.”

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