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Why are people who don't drink alcohol often sick?
Consuming too much alcohol often leads to a hangover the next day. If this is particularly strong, those affected can usually not appear for work. However, researchers have now found that people who do not drink alcohol are sick more often than people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol.
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health researchers found in their current study that refraining from drinking alcohol does not necessarily result in fewer sick days at work compared to people who drink alcohol. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Addiction".
Sickness rates were higher among abstainers and heavy drinkers
The experts examined the relationship between alcohol consumption and absenteeism in the work of people in the UK, France and Finland. The scientists found that the disease rates were generally higher in people who either drank heavily or did not drink at all. The results found are of paramount importance for mental health, the authors say. When people completely abstain from alcohol, it also seems to increase the likelihood of developing a mental disorder, doctors add. For example, abstaining from alcohol also had a negative effect on indigestion and so-called musculoskeletal injuries.
Alcohol consumption is never safe for health
The researchers did not analyze the increased risk of premature death and the development of diseases, such as cancer, associated with alcohol consumption in the study. A recent report on the subject found that there is no amount of alcohol that is safe for our health.
What else affects the days off at work?
Scientists suspect that people who drink little or no alcohol because of their general condition or the medication they are taking have to stay away from work more often because of their health. However, the authors could not verify this statistically. The study also found that abstainers were more likely to come from poorer backgrounds, another characteristic associated with high disease rates and less regular work. When people consumed high amounts of alcohol, there was an increased loss of working hours due to injuries or poisoning, the doctors explain. Some diseases or their treatment prevent alcohol consumption, which could explain the excessive risks in abstainers, adds the study author Dr. Jenni Ervasti from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Where did the data come from?
The data from the study come from alcohol consumption surveys carried out between 1985 and 2004. A total of 47,520 people in the three countries took part in these surveys, the researchers say. The alcohol consumption records were then compared to the absence from work.
Moderate drinking does not lead to more days off
Despite the limitations of the study design, the results are important, especially since the trend can be observed in three countries with very different drinking cultures, the authors explain. It does not mean that abstinence from alcohol is bad for your health, but apparently abstinence is rather uncomfortable for reasons that have not yet been clarified. The results of the study by no means provide evidence that alcohol consumption is not harmful to health or even healthy, but it does indicate that moderate drinking is unlikely to result in more days off work, the scientists explain. (as)