Overtime Could Be Increasing Diabetes Risk In Women

Effects were shockingly different for women versus men.

An overworked female doctor
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Effects were shockingly different for women versus men.

Mahee Gilbert-Ouimet is an epidemiologist and post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Work and Health in Toronto. She and her colleagues recently preformed research, analyzing data on over 7,000 workers in Canada — spanning over more than 12 years — to determine the effects of increased stress and potential heightened risks of certain chronic diseases. The result? According to these researchers, women are at more risk of developing diabetes if they’re pulling in overtime, cites Time. So while that extra income on your paycheck may help out your cost of living, you may not be able to afford the effects that the havoc of overtime is wreaking on your health.

The study was published in BMJ Diabetes Research and Care. Findings were a staggering 51 percent increased risk of diabetes, specifically Type 2, in women who worked 45 hours or more a week in comparison to other women working 35 to 40 hours a week. As with any statistical data analysis, it is highly important for researchers to account for any possible variables. Gilbert-Ouimet and her colleagues were certain to take care and adjust for other potential factors that could affect diabetes risk in those who were studied. Some of the variables ruled out were BMI, physical activity, and smoking.

Another outstanding discovery during the analysis was the effect overtime had on men. Unlike their female counterparts, males who worked overtime were actually found to have a decrease in the risk of Type 2 diabetes when compared to men with fewer working hours. An opposite to what was seen in females. Gilbert-Ouimet remarked on their results, saying increases in women were stronger in those working overtime who also had children at home under the age of 12. Also stated in the report was the lack of significance that socioeconomic status held as far as risk was concerned. This contradicts previous studies suggesting that those of lower socioeconomic status were at higher risk.

“I was surprised to see the somewhat protective effect of longer working hours among men. Among women, we known women tend to assume a lot of family chores and responsibilities outside the workplace, so one can assume that working long hours on top of that can have an adverse effect on health.”

Diabetes Medicines
Earl Charles Williams Sr., 59, sits next to some of the medication he must take for his diabetes in his Chicago home. Christian K. Lee / AP Images

Understanding how work hours affect health is growing. These particular results from Gilbert-Ouimet and her colleagues add to what scientists are uncovering, especially in regard to diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in July 2017 that more than 1 million Americans have diabetes or are pre-diabetic.

Something else to note from these findings were the reported types of jobs held by men in the study. A third of the men who were working longer hours stated their time was spent doing combination of standing, sitting, and walking. Only 8 percent of the women studied reported the same type of physical working conditions. This could suggest how higher activity levels in men while at work plays a role in their risk for Type 2 diabetes.