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Women Who Work Longer Hours Have A Higher Risk For Diabetes

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States today. It has stayed that way for many years, and type Type 2 diabetic patients are growing daily. Diabetes is a chronic condition that leads to other morbidities and mortalities like stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Women who work longer hours are at a higher risk of developing this chronic disease. 

Nurses are at Risk 

Reading the title of this article, who comes to mind? Yourself? Your wife? Another family member? 

It’s an alarming statistic because today, women in the workforce are not uncommon. And, in nursing, working long hours is customary. 

recent Canadian study shows that women that work greater than 45 hours a week have an increased risk for diabetes. This risk is 65% higher than women who only work 35-40 hours a week. Interestingly enough, men that work greater than 45 hours a week have lower diabetes risk. 

As a nurse, it makes you question why. Unfortunately, studies don’t reveal the why. Speculations include increased levels of cortisol in your blood due to stress, leading to poor lifestyle choices, and ending with a diagnosis of diabetes. 

How can employers help? 

Don’t work your female employees into diabetes. Offering women part-time work, even though many need to work full time, may make the job less stressful. The only guidance provided by research is that women should work fewer hours. 


Employers can offer healthy lifestyle options (for free) like: 

  • Workout classes – Offer cardio classes to help with heart health 
  • Meditation rooms – Provide a place designed to relieve stress from the job 
  • Yoga for stress – Stretching the body has been shown to reduce stress 
  • Massages – Offer chair massages to help with tension than many women carry in their back and shoulders 
  • Healthy recipe class – Give nurses time to attend a healthy recipe class to help with food choices and healthy meals to eat at work 
  • Offer healthy snacks – Remove processed food in the hospital and offer fresh food options 


It’s important for employers to offer this for all employees, not just the day shift workers. The night shift nurses are at a higher risk for cancer working off shifts and disrupting their circadian rhythm. They might need some new options even more than day shift nurses. 


Does your employer help their employees with healthy lifestyles? You educate your patients about good health and nutrition. The first step in being a good educator is to be a role model. You only get one body; you need to take care of it. Helping one another to lessen stress at work is beneficial to you and the whole patient-care team.   

Women Who Work Longer Hours Have A Higher Risk For Diabetes
Janine Kelbach

Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of WriteRN.net.