Employees who work more than 48 hours a week are almost 13 percent more likely to engage in risky drinking, compared with those who work less, a new study suggests.
The study considered risky drinking to be more than 14 drinks a week for women, and more than 21 drinks weekly for men.
The researchers noted drinking this much could increase the risk of health problems including cancer, liver disease, heart disease, stroke and mental disorders.
The study included more than 300,000 people from 14 countries, HealthDay reports.
"Although the risks were not very high, these findings suggest that some people might be prone to coping with excess working hours by habits that are unhealthy, in this case by using alcohol above the recommended limits," said study author Marianna Virtanen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki. Some employees who work long hours may turn to alcohol to deal with stress, depression, tiredness and sleep problems, Virtanen said.
The findings are published in BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal).
"The paper supports the longstanding suspicion that many workers may be using alcohol as a mental and physical painkiller, and for smoothing the transition from work to home," Cassandra Okechukwu of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in an accompanying editorial. "Many workers are working long hours, and there are many efforts to curtail regulations against working long hours," she said. "However, policymakers should think carefully before exempting workers from restrictions on working hours."