Men At Higher Risk of Early Death Due to Work Stress


Researchers found that stressful jobs impact more men than women. The risk of early death in men with heart problems or diabetes is increased, add the study authors.

The study was recently published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.

The research suggests that men with heart problems are six times more likely to suffer an early death if their jobs are stressful. Having a healthy diet and keeping fit doesn’t help improving the odds.

Looking at data on women, premature death and work stress were not connected, even if the women had heart disease, type 2 diabetes or suffered a stroke.

Scientists believe that one factor could be that men are more likely to have clogged arteries during their lives, compared to women who had less heart problems before menopause. They believe that a solution to this issue would be to reduce work hours, or to find a way to manage their stress, to minimize the risk.

Professor Mika Kivimäki (University College London) is the lead researcher, stating that:

“Work is a common source of stress in adulthood, triggering natural stress responses that were programmed in our bodies generations ago. These can result in physical reactions to situations like work stress.”

Job Strain Affects Men More than the ‘Effort-Reward Imbalance’

Kivimäki continues explaining that they found “a link between job strain and risk of premature death in men with cardiometabolic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels alone are unlikely to eliminate the excess risk.”

In their study, scientists used data from 100,000 people in the UK, France, Finland and Sweden, whereas 3,441 had cardiometabolic diseases. They completed questionnaires, answering questions on health and lifestyle at the beginning of the study. Then, their medical records were tracked over 14 years.

Researchers considered two types of stress: one is job strain – meaning that the work demands are high and the subject has low control over them, and the second one is the ‘effort-reward imbalance,’ where the subject puts a lot of effort and get little reward.

The findings show that men with heart problems and job strain had were 68% more likely to die earlier than those that didn’t experience job strain. The ones in the group of ‘effort-reward imbalance’ had no risk.

Stress increases cortisol, which also increases glucose production, making insulin less effective and leading to diabetes. Stress is also the culprit of elevating blood pressure which affects blood clotting and increases the risk of cardiac disease in people that already have hardened arteries.

Yulong Lian, of Nantong University in China, said about the study that the results “are provocative and encourage careful attention to work stress reduction among patients with cardiometabolic diseases.”


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