Study Links Long Hours to Death

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How many reasons do you need to not work 10 or more hours a day?  How about one death-related reason?

In a study published in the European Heart Journal this week, British researchers who conducted an 11-year study of 6,000 civil servants reported finding a link between working overtime and serious heart problems. ("Overtime" was defined as more than seven hours — that is, an eight-hour day minus one hour for lunch.  Apparently, some people work only eight hours a day and get a full hour for lunch.) Those who worked three to four hours of overtime regularly had a 60 percent higher risk of what scientists charmingly refer to as "an adverse event."  A total of 369 very, very adverse events (and presumably others that were not so adverse, but still not at all favorable) were reported among the members of the study group.  Who are now former members.

The researchers said that the overtime effect was independent of other risk factors such as high cholesterol, smoking, or being overweight.  They could not say for sure what it was about overtime that made people more likely to die, but speculated it was likely due to stress, which they said can "interfere with metabolic processes" — like maybe causing them to stop —  or possibly other lifestyle issues that tend to be associated with overwork, like poor diet or increased alcohol consumption.

It just occurred to me that I am at this moment eating a quesadilla and drinking a beer.  But I only billed six hours today, so maybe these cancel each other out.

The scientists also remarked on an overtime-associated phenomenon that they called "sickness presenteeism," which is apparently a condition suffered by people who insist on working while they are sick.  By contrast, wellness absenteeism, which I just made up, is a condition associated with people who every now and then go home at a reasonable hour, hoping to thereby reduce their risk of early adverse events.  It is recommended.

Link: Reuters via MSNBC