Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 9th 2014 Contents B52
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, October 9, 2014
People in low-paying jobs may be at a higher
risk of developing diabetes if they work long hours,
suggests a new analysis of past research.
Low-income workers were more likely to develop
type 2 diabetes if they put in more than 55 hours per
week than if they worked normal hours, researchers
found. Work hours weren t tied to increased diabetes
risks among wealthier people, however.
"Those who worked long hours in these jobs had
30 per cent increased risk of developing type 2 dia-
betes," said Mika Kivimäki, the study s lead author
from the UK s University College London. "One pos-
sible reason for this is that working long hours dis-
places health-restorative activities, in particular phys-
ical activity, sufficient sleep and healthy diet," Kivimäki
told Reuters Health in an e-mail. About one in ten
people living in the US has diabetes, according to
the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 30 per cent of diabetes cases are undiagnosed.
The vast majority of cases are type 2 diabetes,
which is sometimes referred to as adult-onset diabetes.
It occurs when the body s cells are resistant to the
hormone insulin, or the body doesn t make enough
of it. Insulin gives blood sugar access to the body s
cells to be used as fuel. Previous studies had suggested
that working long hours is tied to an increased risk
of developing diabetes, but more recent research had
suggested the link is only true among the poorest
workers, Kivimäki and his colleagues write in The
Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.
For the analysis, they combined data from four
previously published studies and 19 unpublished
studies that looked at working long hours, which
they defined as 55 hours or more per week, and the
risk of developing diabetes. The studies included
more than 200,000 people, who were followed for
an average of seven years, from the US, Japan, Australia
and several European countries.
Out of every 10,000 study participants, about 29
developed diabetes each year during the study. Overall,
when the researchers compared people who worked
long hours to people who worked a standard 35- to
40-hour work week, they found similar diabetes
risks in both groups.
But when they focused on people who worked
long hours, they saw a difference by wealth class.
Specifically, among every 10,000 of the lowest-paid
workers, there were 13 extra cases of diabetes each
year among those who worked longer hours, compared
to those who worked normal hours.
There was no increased risk among the wealthiest
people who worked long hours. While the new study
can t prove working long hours leads to diabetes
among poor workers, Kivimäki said that it s good for
health professionals to know of the link. "Well targeted
prevention and early diagnosis can reduce the number
of diabetes cases and lower rates of developing com-
plications," he said.
Orfeu Buxton, a researcher with The Pennsylvania
State University in University Park, and Cassandra
Okechukwu, a researcher from Harvard School of
Public Health in Boston, suggest in a commentary
accompanying the new analysis that the increased
risk among the poorest group may stem from working
longer shifts, late nights or split shifts that disrupt
the body s so-called clocks---known as circadian
"It s not the work hours themselves directly that
are necessarily toxic---it s what they create or cause,"
Buxton told Reuters Health in a phone call. Circadian
rhythms can slow down metabolism and cause the
pancreas to secrete less insulin after meals, he said.
This can lead to diabetes in some people.
"We don t think that everybody faces the same
Working long hours tied
to increased diabetes risk
Working long hours displaces health-restorative activities, in particular physical
activity, sufficient sleep and healthy diet.
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
risks," Buxton said, adding that some people can
handle long hours and shift work, but others may
have problems within a few weeks. Kivimäki said he
hopes the study will prompt policymakers and
employers to think of ways the workplace can support
healthy lifestyles. He also said there are a few ways
individuals can lower their risks of developing diabetes.
"Diabetes prevention guidelines emphasize that
30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity
on most days and a healthy diet can substantially
reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes," he
said. (Reuters Health)
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