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Longer hours on the job linked to risky alcohol use, workplace inefficiencies, and bad health

By Antonia: (NaturalNews) Many studies have touted the benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation, perhaps the most widely-studied one revolving around red wine. While some have felt that the red wine/health link is nothing more than hype, others have found that its organic compound reservatrol is beneficial. In fact, one of the latest findings from researchers at California's Scripps Research Institute points to reservatrol's ability to actually protect cells from genetic damage in addition to playing a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.(1)

However, alcohol consumption can become a dangerous habit, and one recent study suggests that the more work hours employees put in, the more they are likely to drink. Therein lies the problem; the European researchers who looked into this matter suggest that those working more than 48 hours weekly are more inclined to drink more alcohol and in turn, miss more work days, be more unproductive in the office and worst of all, compromise their health.(2)

Long work hours linked to risky alcohol use

Forty-eight hours is the limit put forth by the European Union Working Time Directive (EUWT) which gives employees in EU countries the right to work no longer than that amount, including overtime. However, just as in many other parts of the world, mounting pressures to succeed at work often involve working extremely long hours on a daily basis, making a 48-hour workweek hardly unheard of. In turn, it's no secret that many workers unwind after 14 or 16 hour days with wine or other alcoholic beverages.(2)

"Given mounting pressure to exclude an increasing proportion of workers from current standards that limit working hours in Europe and other developed countries," says Cassandra A. Okechukwu, an Assistant Professor at Harvard School of Public Health in the United States, "long working hours is an exposure that we cannot afford to ignore."(2)

In the study, 333,693 people in 14 countries were researched. Data led to the conclusion that, compared to those working 35-40 hours weekly, people working 49-54 hours and 55 hours weekly have an increased risk of 13 percent and 12 percent respectively of risky alcohol consumption.(2)

Risky alcohol consumption is considered to be having more than 14 drinks per week for women and more than 21 drinks per week for men. Such a habit is associated with changes in health that could involve mental disorders, cancer, liver diseases, stroke and heart problems.(2)

"Work hard, play hard" mentality may lead to workplace absenteeism, health setbacks

The study was titled, "Long working hours and alcohol use: systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies and unpublished individual participant data." It was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), it's objective "To quantify the association between long working hours and alcohol use."(3)

It states:

Possible explanations for the association between long working hours and risky alcohol use might involve the work environment as well as individual characteristics. One view is that alcohol use alleviates stress that is caused by work pressure and working conditions. Working overtime and characteristics such as high demands and lack of control might contribute to stress at work.(3)

The article also notes that the often valued "work hard, play hard" environment is not beneficial:

Other factors, such as personality traits, could confound the association because they might make people work long hours and also be related to a tendency to risky alcohol use. For example, individuals with "type A" behaviour pattern, which is characterised by aggressiveness and irritability and a chronic struggle to achieve more and more in less and less time, can end up in highly competitive jobs and work communities characterised by a "work hard play hard" culture with positive attitudes towards heavy alcohol use.(3)

It concludes:

The workplace is an important setting for the prevention of alcohol misuse because more than half of the adult population are employed. Risky alcohol use is an issue in the workplace because it can have adverse and serious effects on employees, such as absenteeism, inefficiency, poor performance, impaired decision making, damaged customer relations, and injuries at work.(3)

In the United States, it's estimated that 15 million employees are heavy alcohol drinkers, which negatively impacts the work environment as well as one's health. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. website, alcoholism isn't the only issue that could lead to problems such as absenteeism, on-the-job theft and sickness. "Research has shown that the majority of alcohol-related work-performance problems are associated with nondependent drinkers who may occasionally drink too much -- not exclusively by alcohol-dependent employees."(4) Sources: (1) (2) (3) (4) Learn more: