It's nice to have a cocktail after a long day at work. But living like Don Draper on Mad Men — long hours and lots of Old Fashioneds — can lead to dangerous drinking levels, according to a new study published in The BMJ.
Scandinavian researchers reviewed multiple studies that covered more than 300,000 people in 14 countries. And they found that people who worked more than 48 hours a week were more likely to consume alcohol at a "risky" level, which they defined as more than 14 drinks a week for women and 21 drinks a week for men.
Interestingly, there was no difference when accounting for gender, class, or geography, which means the link between work hours and alcohol abuse is largely universal. "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," Harvard professor Cassandra A. Okechukwu wrote in an editorial accompanying the study.
The researchers urge employers to restrict maximum working hours, and they also urge employees to not feel pressure to show up early and stay late when it's not required of them. Alcohol abuse can lead to various health problems down the road, and knowing the root cause can help a lot. "Long working hours is an exposure that we cannot afford to ignore," Okechukwu wrote.
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