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Workaholic Women May Face Alarming Cancer And Heart Disease Risk, Study Says

Jun 17, 2016 07:51 AM EDT
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Women who work longer hours are prone to life-threatening diseases, a study said.

A new research from The Ohio State University found that work weeks averaging 60 hours or more for over 30 years may triple the risk of cancer, heart diseases, diabetes and arthritis among women.

Risk of these health problems begins to escalate when women more than 40 hours and decidedly takes a bad turn above 50 hours, researchers said.

The researchers noted that women tend to take on a bigger share of responsibilities at home and may face more pressure and stress than men when they work long hours. Work for women is also less satisfying due to the need to balance demands at work and family obligations, researchers said.

Researchers also found that men with long work schedules fare much better.

"Women - especially women who have to juggle multiple roles - feel the effects of intensive work experiences and that can set the table for a variety of illnesses and disability," Allard Dembe, professor of health services management and policy and lead author of the study, said in a report published in Science Daily.

"People don't think that much about how their early work experiences affect them down the road. Women in their 20s, 30s and 40s are setting themselves up for problems later in life," Dember added.

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers analyzed data from interviews with nearly 7,500 people who were part of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The researchers examined survey participants who were at least 40 in 1998.

Using the data, the researchers averaged the reported work hours each week over a 32-year period and compared the hours worked to incidence of eight chronic diseases: cancer (except skin cancer), heart disease, arthritis or rheumatism, diabetes or high blood sugar, chronic lung disease, asthma, depression and high blood pressure. Results were also examined according to gender.

The results indicate a clear and strong relationship between long hours of work and cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes among women in particular.

According to the researchers, the study does not provide results about the differences between those who consistently work long hours and those whose jobs require long hours at first but found to have more free time later on.

But Dembe said that this study is still important especially for career women. "You might still be working hard, but the fact that it's your choice might help you stay healthier," he said.

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