The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health has conducted a study to determine which type of drinkers miss work the most.

The Study

During the course of the study, researchers surveyed more than 47,000 people across the United Kingdom, France, and Finland. The survey asked the participants about their alcohol use as well as the number of sick days they reported over the course of four to seven years.

After analyzing the study’s results, researchers were able to divide respondents into five categories, ranging from those who do not drink, to those who drink moderately, and finally to those who drink heavily.

The Results

Researchers discovered that both abstainers and heavy drinkers are equally at risk to miss work due to illness. Both groups were also more likely to be absent from work than moderate drinkers.

Those who chose not to drink did not show up to work for medical reasons such as diseases of the digestive and respiratory systems. It is also important to note that many people choose to abstain from alcohol consumption for religious reasons.

“Some diseases, or their treatment, prevent alcohol use, which may explain the excess risks among abstainers,” lead author Jenni Ervasti said in a statement. “Moreover, participants to whom at-risk drinking causes health problems may be selected out from the labor market, that is, if they retire early or become unemployed. Then, the adverse effects are not seen in absence from work due to illness”.

The study was done in Finland, France, and the United Kingdom, and most of the recorded data was quantitative. From Finland, the researchers had population cohort survey data from 1998 and 2003 and employe cohort survey data from 2002 and 2004. From France and the United Kingdom, they had employee cohort survey data from 1985-88, 1991-94, and 1997.

It should be noted that the average European consumes much more alcohol than the average American. Furthermore, this study was not done in order to defend unhealthy behaviors, but instead to make a point about what someone’s drinking habits could say about their character.

For starters, moderate drinkers may be less likely to miss a day of work because their drinking habits prove that they are responsible enough to strike a healthy balance between their social, personal, and professional lives. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, are not as balanced and thus are not as responsible with regards to their professional lives.

Qualifying the Results

This research cannot be applied universally, however, as the respondents only represent the drinking habits of three countries.

Were this study conducted in the United States, the results could have been quite different, as many U.S. citizens operate under the motto of “work hard, play hard,” with an emphasis on the phrase “work hard.” A hangover is not seen as an acceptable excuse to call in sick.

Another study also warns that one drink per day can increase the risk of cancer. The researchers who conducted the experiment found that nearly 3.5 percent of all cancer-related deaths were due to alcohol consumption.

It is perhaps too easy, however, to point out that heavy alcohol consumption can lead to negative behavior. It is interesting to point out that negative behavior can be just as prevalent within groups who choose not to drink at all.

The key, then, is to find a balance between both extremes and learn how to be responsible both when consuming alcohol and when abstaining.

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