The Surprising Connection Between Problem Drinking And Working Too Much

If you're always working late, your job could be taking a toll on your health in more ways than you may realize, new research suggests.

Publishing in the British Medical Journal Tuesday, a systematic review and meta-analysis explored the potential link between the number of hours a person works and their alcohol consumption arrived at a startling conclusion: people who work more than 48 hours each week are 13 percent more likely to drink a risky amount of alcohol than those who work 35 to 40 hours each week.

The analysis, which was completed by a team of researchers in Finland, included 81 studies representing more than 333,000 subjects across 14 countries. They used the European standards of risky drinking: more than 14 drinks a week for women and more than 21 drinks a week for men (the United States measures risky drinking as more than 7 drinks a week for women and more than 14 drinks a week for men).

These new findings pose a particular threat to the American workforce, for we are notorious for logging long hours, leaving vacation days untouched and enjoying quite a few happy hours during the week. On average, U.S. workers log 47 hours at work each week, according to a 2014 Gallup poll.

Workers risk more than a hangover the following morning when they end up consuming three, four or even five drinks in one evening. According to another new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, middle-aged men are most likely to die from drinking too much -- not the college students we often automatically associate with the issue of binge drinking. These amounts of alcohol consumption place workers at increased risk for cancer, liver disease, stroke and coronary heart disease.

If the sleep deprivation brought on by increasingly long work weeks isn't motivation enough for us to rethink the ways in which we structure our time, then maybe acknowledging the harm caused by this common, self-medicating ritual will be.

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