The next time work keeps you from making Junior’s Little League game, it may be more than just your conscience that’s feeling the strain — your ticker and cardiovascular system are suffering, too. A new study in the medical journal The Lancet found that people working 55 hours or more per week have a 33 percent greater chance of suffering a stroke and a 13 percent greater risk of coronary heart disease than those working 40 hour weeks (whoever they are).
Before you pat yourself on the back for keeping up a decent exercise routine and eating fairly well, note that the study controlled for that sort of stuff — so all those extra hours still put you at risk even if you’ve managed to maintain a post-child 6-pack. And while some experts expressed skepticism over the report’s methodology, they backed up their criticism by pointing out that high stress jobs are already known to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. That’s to say, unless your 55-hour work weeks consist of meetings with masseuses and brain storm sessions by the pool, you’re probably doing damage to your body regardless of whether the current research is accurate.
No one likes the thought of telling their boss that they’re going to start working less, but before you shy away from the conversation, maybe ask yourself if longer hours at work are really worth shorter hours of life.