It seems that working hard can, in fact, kill you. A new study shows a strong correlation between long working hours and two major health problems: Cardiovascular disease and strokes.
The study, conducted by Mika Kivimaki, a professor of epidemiology at University College London, tracked 600,000 adults in the United States, Europe and Australia over a period of eight years. While Kivimaki does not claim to have proven that hard work is a direct cause of the health problems, but the correlation between the two was significant. Those who worked 55 hours a week or more were 13 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease than those who worked standard hours.
A separate analysis of 17 similar studies that tracked over 500,000 adults concluded that those working over 55 hours a week were one-third more likely to suffer from heart disease. Workers who put in 41 to 48 hours a week were 10 percent more likely to develop heart disease, while those who worked 49 to 54 hours a week were 27 percent more likely.
What is it that’s so dangerous about working hard? A lot of things, including physical inactivity, sleep deprivation and stress. The study Other studies have also suggested that hard work can drive some to drink more heavily, which also contributes to higher risk of heart disease.
Dr. Stephan Mayer, director of neurocritical care at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, told HealthDay News that the study findings were dramatic.
“The risk is almost as bad as smoking, which increases the risk of stroke by about 50 percent,” he said. “Although we don’t know for sure, to my mind the most plausible explanation is chronic triggering of the stress response that comes with working long hours, pressure to perform, and not enough time for family, loved ones and peaceful rest. ”
Mayer suggested the findings were evidence that people needed to be increasingly mindful about the work-life balance. The problem, of course, is that some people don’t have the choice but to work hard.