TORONTO – It’s almost second nature to head to the bar for pints of beer after a long, exhausting day at the office, right? A new study suggests that the more hours we put in at work, the more likely we are to hit the bottle.
If you’re clocking more than 49 hours per week at work, new research is warning that you could also be committing to “risky” levels of alcohol consumption afterwards.
The findings come out of Finland, where scientists conducted an overview of global research from 14 different countries, including Canada, the U.K., the U.S., France, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Sweden and Taiwan.
The health records of about 300,000 people were taken into account. The meta-analysis found that lengthier work days increased an employee’s chances of drinking more by 11 per cent.
Those who logged at least 49 hours of work per week had a 13 per cent increased risk of dangerous levels of drinking compared to their counterparts working a regular 35 to 40 hour work week. It seems to taper off, though — at 55 hours of work, drinking too much sat at a 12 per cent increased risk.
“Individuals whose working hours exceed standard recommendations are more likely to increase their alcohol use to levels that pose a health risk,” the study concluded.
Don’t forget concerns about liver disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke and mental health, the researchers note.
So how much is too much? “Risky,” in this study, refers to more than 14 units per week for women and 21 units for men. One alcohol unit is about 10 millilitres or 8 grams of pure alcohol – the equivalent of a third of a pint of beer or half of a standard glass of wine.
“Possible explanations for the association between long working hours and risky alcohol use might involve the work environment as well as individual characteristics,” the researchers, led by Dr. Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, wrote.
“One view is that alcohol use alleviates stress that is caused by work pressure and working conditions,” they said.
The full study, published Wednesday morning in the British Medical Journal, can be found here.