We all experience stress to a certain degree when it comes to our jobs. This work-related stress is brought on by numerous factors, which range from long hours to a lack of compensation. Researchers at INRES (Institut national de la recherche scientifique), and the Université de Montréal suggest prolonged exposure to work-related stress may be linked to certain types of cancers in men.

The study, published in Preventative Medicine, found a link to an increased likelihood of lung, colon, rectal, stomach cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This effect was pronounced in those who had been exposed to 15 to 30 years of work-related stress, and in some cases, more than 30 years. These men were also more likely to have held four jobs or more, with some holding more than 12 throughout their careers.

Read: Work-Related Stress Linked To Health Problems, Early Death

In the U.S., prostate cancer is the leading cancer for men, followed by lung cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder, and melanoma, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stress, specifically long-term or chronic stress, promotes the growth and spread of some forms of cancer, or in other words, it makes the body more susceptible to cancer. This type of stress can weaken the immune system, and leave us vulnerable to other diseases, too.

The researchers also found perceived stress is not limited to high workload and time constraints. Customer service, sales commissions, responsibilities, an anxious temperament, job insecurity, financial problems, challenging or dangerous work conditions, employee supervision, interpersonal conflict, and a difficult commute were all sources of stress listed by the participants. Stressful jobs included being an industrial engineer, aerospace engineer, vehicle and railway-equipment repair worker, mechanic foreman, and firefighter.

A link between work-related stress and cancer was not found in participants who held stressful jobs for fewer than 15 years.

“Our study shows the importance of measuring stress at different points in an individual's working life," explained the authors of the study, in a statement.

About 500 population control participants were interviewed, and the researchers reviewed about 3,100 cases of cancer diagnoses from 1979 to 1985. Here, the men were asked to describe each job they'd held throughout their working lifetime in detail; the stress experienced during these jobs; and the reason for the stress.

Psychological stress can affect our mental, physical, or emotional states, whether triggered by work or not. In a 2011 study, women with triple-negative breast cancer who had been treated with chemotherapy were asked about their use of beta blockers — medications that interfere with certain stress hormones, before and during chemotherapy. Those who reported using beta blockers had a better chance of surviving their cancer treatment without a relapse than women who did not report using beta blockers.

Read More: Stress Hormone Therapy Used To Treat Breast Cancer Side Effects May Make Tumors Drug Resistant

There is some data that suggests cancer patients can develop a sense of helplessness or hopelessness when stress becomes overwhelming, although there's little evidence that stress directly affects cancer outcomes, or leads to cancer,

We all experience psychological stress to a degree, but those of us who experience high levels of stress could be more susceptible to certain diseases, including cancer.

Source: Lapierre-Blanc A, Rousseau MC, Weiss D et al. Lifetime report of perceived stress at work and cancer among men: A case-control study in Montreal, Canada. Preventive Medicine. 2017.

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