Working too much can kill you, WHO study finds – CNET

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We already know that working too much can cause burnout, but a new study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization has quantified it. The study showed that people who work 55 hours a week or more have a 35% increased risk of stroke, and a 17% increased risk of dying from ischemic heart disease (narrowed arteries). 

The study was a global analysis of workers of different ages, backgrounds and occupations in 154 countries, using data collected from 1970 to 2018. Comparing data from 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease due to working long hours increased by 42%, and from stroke by 19%. 

In a news release published by the WHO regarding the study, the organization said the findings come as the pandemic continues to “shine a spotlight” on managing working hours.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the way many people work,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. “Teleworking has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the boundaries between home and work. In addition, many businesses have been forced to scale back or shut down operations to save money, and people who are still on the payroll end up working longer hours.” 

The WHO and ILO estimated that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 died from heart disease whose deaths were attributable to their long working hours.

This work-related disease burden, according to the WHO and ILO, is “particularly significant” in men, people living in the Western-Pacific and South-East Asian regions and middle-aged or older workers. In their news release, the organizations did not list specific occupations as having an increased risk. 

NPR reported that in the US, less than 5% of workers are subjected to working more than 55 hours per week. However, the number of people working long hours is increasing globally — around 9% of the population, experts said. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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