Surprisingly, men who worked longer hours did not have the same increased diabetes risk.
However, men who work the same hours did not face a greater risk of diabetes, the study found. Scientists believe this is because women effectively work even longer hours due to housework and childcaring responsibilities.
"Considering the rapid and substantial increase of diabetes prevalence in Canada and worldwide, identifying modifiable risk factors such as long work hours is of major importance to improve prevention and orient policy making, as it could prevent numerous cases of diabetes and diabetes-related chronic diseases", the authors wrote in their conclusion. One such study in Japan, published in 2016, saw a connection between diabetes risk and workers who labored for more than 45 hours of regular daytime schedule work. The participants, who were followed for about 12 years, were between 35 and 74 years old.
Working less can lower a woman's risk of diabetes.
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Several studies have shown associations between being overworked and getting diabetes.
The fact that long work hours may be connected to diabetes isn't entirely surprising. Higher stress can also disrupt sleep and lead to poorer mental health, which in turn can contribute to changes in weight and insulin levels, and contribute to diabetes.
Gilbert-Ouimet hopes that the results stimulate conversations among doctors and their patients about the role that long work hours can play in compromising health - especially among women who might already have other risk factors for developing diabetes. "And if women also have risk factors, then they should discuss more followup visits or screening tests for diabetes".
"If you think about all the unpaid work they do on their off-hours, like household chores for example, they simply do more than men, and that can be stressful, and stress negatively impacts your health", according to the University of Toronto's Mahee Gilbert-Ouimet, coauthor of the study.