Skip to Main Content

Help with the Headlines: Is Working Long Hours Dangerous to Your Health?

July 27, 2016

A study published online June 16, 2016 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that working long-hour schedules over many years increases the risk of heart disease, non-skin cancer, arthritis, and diabetes — particularly among women. It was reported July 16, 2016 by United Press International.

Visit our website to read the full Q&A now!

The study was seeking to determine if the risk of developing problems like heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and diabetes is increased in people who work long hours. The study also looked at differences between men and women with regard to these risks. This has been done before with short-term health problems, but the impact of working long hours on the long-term risk of developing chronic disease later in life has not been studied as well. This is because of the complexity and difficulty involved in collecting this type of information over a long period of time.

The study showed that arthritis and depression were the most commonly reported health conditions among participants. Approximately 28 percent of participants worked 30 to 40 hours per week, 56 percent worked 41 to 50 hours per week, 13 percent worked 51 to 60 hours per week, and 3 percent worked more than 60 hours per week. People working 51 to 60 hours per week were found to be more likely to develop heart disease, as were those working more than 60 hours per week. Those working more than 40 hours per week were more likely to develop arthritis than those working less than 40 hours. There was no difference based on hours worked on the risk of chronic lung disease, asthma, depression, or high blood pressure.

The risks for women working long hours was found to be higher in women than in men. Men actually had a decreased risk of heart disease, lung disease, and depression when working moderately long hours (41 to 50 hours per week). In women, there was a higher risk of heart disease, cancers, arthritis, and diabetes when working long hours. The study found that the longer the hours, the higher the risk in women.

For more news from Women's Health Research at Yale, sign up for our e-blasts, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, or visit our website.

For questions, please contact Rick Harrison, Communications Officer, at 203-764-6610 or

Submitted by Carissa R Violante on July 27, 2016