Women more likely than men to get sick from working too much

By splitting grueling hours at home and in the office, women are working themselves into an early grave, a new study finds.

Women who logged 60-hour work weeks over three decades tripled their risks for diabetes, certain cancers and heart problems, and quadrupled their risk for arthritis, according to the study from Ohio State University.

For men, only arthritis was a likely symptom of too much time spent at the office.

A second study found that at least 10 hours of overtime a week led to more hospitalizations for women — but fewer for men. Why the gender gap?

Researchers could not pinpoint exactly how the extra hours impact women, but they believe that managing work, kids and a house takes its toll.

"For women not only are you busting your butt 50 to 60 hours a week you are also asked to do all kinds of other stressful activities, like raising children, becoming pregnant and roles that require a tremendous effort," said Dr. Allard Dembe, lead author of the study published in the current issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Women — intent on doing it all at the office, being involved moms and running a household — very likely put their own health needs on the back burner.

"They work over 60 hours a week for many, many years," Dembe said. "This is the kind of person working excessively hard for many hours in a long stressful situation. It may be those hours are now manifesting itself and it does not manifest itself until later in life."

Though both genders report similar average stress levels, women are more likely than men to report that their stress levels are on the rise. They are also much more likely than men to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress. When comparing women with each other, there also appears to be differences in the ways that married and single women experience stress.

Dembe based his study on a survey of 12,686 men and women who were between 14 and 22 in 1979 and were interviewed consistently over 32 years.

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