Working long hours? You may be killing yourself

CBS4 This Morning

INDIANAPOLIS — Have you ever thought your job, or all the time you spend at work is killing you? Turns out you may be right.

According to the World Health Organization, working long hours is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year through stroke and heart disease. Along with the International Labour Organization tabulated roughly 745,000 people died as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week in 2016.

For those who worked 55 hours or more, there was an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and an estimated 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease compared to those working a standard 35-40 hour work week.

The reason for the increased risk came down to two main factors. First, that much time spent at work causes a lot of stress. Chronic stress can have a devastating effect on the body.

The second reason comes down to the way people handle said stress. Many people engage in what’s known as “health harming behaviors,” i.e. smoking, drinking, bad eating habits, lack of physical activity and arguably most importantly a serious lack of sleep.

Kendra Thomas, an assistant professor of psychology, at UIndy highlighted how a lack of sleep can affect the average person.

“The lack of sleep makes it harder to regulate stress hormones, harder to regulate appetite, harder to make good decisions … and stress interferes with sleep and sleep interferes with our ability to regulate stress,” Thomas said.

Thomas also says the older you get, the worse the impacts can become.

“The aging of the bodies hormonal system lowers the resistance to stress and so older people keep their stress hormones in their system longer. People who are battling chronic stress and the cumulative physiological effect of chronic stress, that lingers longer in an older body than it does in a younger body, and that accentuates the vulnerability,” she said.

Most of the deaths were recorded by the WHO and the International Labour Organization were among people aged 60 to 79.

“Of course, we can’t just blame the worker, I imagine there will be people watching this and they do not want to work as much as they do,” Thomas said.

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