Millions of workers are being put at greater risk of dementia by Britain’s long working hours culture, research has found.
My personal thoughts — As I think over the years of the number of individuals whom I have known and the long hours that they worked, I can’t help think that this is yet another theory which affects those who seem to be prone to developing dementia. It doesn’t affect all the long workers. Just some. I’ve known many physicians who have worked long and hard hours and are still sharp and alert as ever. The theories which are "out there" all seem to have some merit. However, it tells me that we are all struggling to come up with some kind of answer to help us make sense out of this demon called dementia.
The findings suggest the long-term damage to the brain caused by excessive time at work has been underestimated Photo: GETTY
Extreme tiredness and stress could be as bad for the brain as smoking, according to the study.
The report, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found middle-aged workers clocking up more than 55 hours a week have poorer mental skills, including short-term memory and ability to recall words, than those working fewer than 41 hours.
The findings suggest the long-term damage to the brain caused by excessive time at work has been underestimated.
One in eight British workers puts in more than the supposed European maximum of 48 hours a week.
Researchers, led by Dr Marianna Virtanen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, monitored 2,214 British civil servants from the 1980s.
Participants in their early 50s were put through a series of brain function tests. Those doing the most overtime recorded lower scores in two of the five key brain function tests – reasoning and vocabulary.
The researchers said: "This study shows that long working hours may have a negative effect on cognitive performance in middle age. The link between cognitive impairment and dementia later in life is clearly established.
"The difference between employees working long hours and those working normal hours is similar in magnitude to that of smoking, a risk factor for dementia."
Professor Cary Cooper, an expert in workplace stress from Lancaster University, told the Daily Mail: "Working long hours obviously makes you very tired. If you do that on a consistent basis it’s going to affect your brain function. Long hours are not just bad for health, they are also bad for your performance."
VCR Skills Joke
— Teresa Donn
While reviewing math symbols with my second-grade pupils, I drew a greater-than (>) and a less-than (<) sign on the chalkboard and asked, "Does anyone remember what these mean?" A few moments passed, and then a boy confidently raised his hand. "One means fast-forward," he exclaimed, "and the other means rewind!"