Between heavy paperwork and the constant ringing of your phone, it’s hard not to get stressed at work. Working under these conditions, however, can be very demanding on the body and mind, and can eventually lead to health risks.
A new study now finds that stressful work environments can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by a whopping 45 percent. For the study, a team of scientists, led by Dr. Cornelia Huth and Professor Karl-Henz Ladwig of the Institute of Epidemiology II at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen in Germany, analyzed data collected from over 5,300 employed individuals between 29 and 56 years old. None of the participants had type 2 diabetes when the study began, but over the course of 13 years, almost 300 of them were diagnosed. The researchers found that one in five people were affected by high levels of stress in their workplace. "By that, scientists do not mean 'normal job stress' but rather the situation in which the individuals concerned rate the demands made upon them as very high, and at the same time they have little scope for maneuver or for decision making. We covered both these aspects in great detail in our surveys,” Ladwig said in a press release.
According to the American Diabetes Association, over 90 percent of the 29.1 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. With those numbers expected to rise, researchers are looking for solutions. Identifying stress in the workplace as a contributor to type 2 diabetes can help scientists find new approaches to treat and prevent the disease. "In view of the huge health implications of stress-related disorders, preventive measures to prevent common diseases such as diabetes should therefore also begin at this point," Ladwig said.
A 2009 study also ackowledged the relationship between stress and type 2 diabetes. In their paper, the study's authors wrote that 17th century doctors also linked diabetes to “prolonged sorrow," or what we now refer to as stress. Stress can also lead to obesity, another risk factor for type 2 diabetes, the report says. Although it interferes with glucose levels and tolerance among non-diabetics, it wreaks havoc on the bodies of people who have already been diagnosed.
High levels of stress in the workplace can lead to many other illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome. It can also cause migraine headaches and severe fatigue. The American Diabetes Association says that you can cope with stress by exercising, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, and doing breathing exercises.
Source: Huth C, Thorand B, Kruse J, et al. Job Strain as a Risk Factor for the Onset of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Findings From the MONICA/KORA Augsburg Cohort Study. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2014.