Long working hours boosted the likelihood of higher alcohol intake by 11 percent overall, according to a paper published in The BMJ journal.
People from Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the United States were part of the study. Researchers found that individuals who exceed 48 working hours per week, the European Union's suggested maximum, are likelier to consume risky quantities of alcohol. They noted that people who worked 49-54 hours a week had a 13-percent higher risk of developing a risky alcohol use habit compared to counterparts who worked for 35-40 hours per week, while those working 55 hours or more ran a 12 percent more risk.
'Risky alcohol use' was defined as levels that have been linked to a higher risk for liver and heart disease, cancer, stroke and mental disorders, with more than 14 units per week for a woman and more than 21 for a man.
Cassandra Okechukwu of the Harvard School of Public Health said, "This meta-analysis supports the longstanding suspicion that among workers subjected to long working hours, alcohol can seem like a fast acting and effective way to dull work-related aches and pains and smooth the transition between work life and home life. The increased risk of developing a risky drinking habit from over-work was small in absolute terms. Also, having a job was associated with a lower prevalence of alcohol consumption and a higher chance of recovery from alcohol misuse than being unemployed."
These findings could add impetus to further regulation of working hours as a public health intervention.