For the study, researchers from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health surveyed 47,520 people from Finland, France and the United Kingdom from 1985 to 2004, asking them about the amounts of alcohol they'd consumed. Officials later grouped participants into categories based on their drinking, ranging from those who never touched spirits to the "Animal House" John Belushi type.
Once participants were divided into groups, researchers then reviewed work records to try and determine if there was any correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed and the amount of work absences employees took.
As it turns out, heavy drinkers, defined as women who consumed 11 units a week and men who consumed 34 drinks per week, called out of work about as often as non-drinkers.
Though alcohol lovers tended to call out sick due to injuries and poisoning, researchers discovered that non-drinkers had a high risk of work absences due to mental and musculoskeletal disorders and diseases of the digestive and respiratory system.
"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."
Participants identified as moderate drinkers, defined as less than 11 units a week for women and less than 34 for men, as had the lowest likelihood of calling out from work.
Although eye-opening, officials noted in their findings that there were some limitations since the surveys were self-reported, leaving participants open to being untruthful about their lifestyles. Officials also noted that the study only questioned Europeans, leaving open the possibility that drinking habits differ in other parts of the world.