Job-Related Stress Can Be Bad for Physical Health

There have been numerous studies conducted on job-related stress and how it affects overall health and well-being. Many of the studies have focused on mental health while others have focused on physical health. Some have even explored mental well-being via the influence of job stress and strain on physical health. Although there is a wide body of research on this topic, indications of direct job stress outcomes are unclear.

To add to the existing literature, Solia T. Nyberg of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health at Helsinki recently analyzed eight existing studies on job strain and health outcomes. The analyses included data from over 47,000 adults and examined lifestyle factors such as smoking, physical activity, alcohol use, and obesity. It also included demographic data such as socioeconomic status and gender. Finally, Nyberg looked at specific physical indicators including blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and lipid counts as predictors or risk factors for heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

The results revealed that although there were no direct links between job strain and heart disease or cancer, there were increased numbers of diabetes cases among participants with high levels of job strain. Measurements of blood lipids and blood pressure did not indicate risk factors for heart disease in those highly stressed individuals, but blood glucose levels were elevated in those participants with high levels of job strain.

Further investigations revealed that women were more likely to have diabetes as a result of job strain than men. Job strain did negatively impact physical activity and positively impact obesity, alcohol use and smoking. Nyberg believes that perhaps these lifestyle factors could act as an indirect path to negative physical health outcomes and, in the long term, could lead to higher risk for heart disease and other physical health problems.

In sum, this evidence does not support a direct link between job strain and heart disease or cancer, but does suggest a link between job strain and diabetes, especially for women. Nyberg added, “The main emphasis of future mechanistic investigations of job strain and cardiovascular disease risk should be placed on examining diabetes and lifestyle factors rather than standard cardiovascular risk factors.”

Nyberg, S.T., Fransson, E.I., Heikkilä, K., Alfredsson, L., Casini, A., et al. (2013). Job strain and cardiovascular disease risk factors: Meta-analysis of individual-participant data from 47,000 men and women. PLoS ONE 8(6): e67323. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067323

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  • Steven

    July 13th, 2013 at 4:41 AM

    I don’t know about what actual diseases it causes, but stress on the job, day after day, is not a good thing. I left college thinking that I have my degree in business, this is going to be a cake walk. All of you reading already know just how disillusioned that thinking was! My first job? One headache after another. It got so bad that even the thought of going into that office day after day almost gave me a panic attack. My dad was all like, son you have to tough it out, it will get better, but deep down I knew that the only way that it would get better would be for me to find another job. Luckily this wasn’t somewhere that I had to stay too terribly long and I was able to find something that allowed me to be me and spread my wongs a little more, and hopefully I got out before too much damage to the mind and body was done. But I tell ya, the longer I had to stay the more of an emotional and physical drain it became.

  • solli

    July 13th, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    We have to remember that just because the actual JOB might not be related to let’s say heart disease, think about all of the negative behaviors that being in a job like that could cause you to become engaged in. Drinking, staying up late, traveling, all of these things could be the detriment to your health that causes that link to emerge. Either way, life is too short to stay in a job that can begin to lead you down that path to poor health.

  • Joan

    July 13th, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    I’ve lost count of the number of friends who say they smoke to cope with stress and most often job stress.What they do not know is they are actually making things worse for themselves by doing that.I do not smoke and that is why they say I will never understand how smoking helps cope with stress!

  • Lucia

    July 14th, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    More than the demands of the job it is the feeling that the job provides for you and your family that takes a toll.Psychologically that is a big thing and it is bound to have an effect.The very thought of losing the source of income especially in times like these can be very bad to your health.

  • Trina T

    July 15th, 2013 at 4:17 AM

    The worst part about this kind of stress is that it is nearly imporssible to keep it at work.

    You come home, you’ve has a stressful day, and naturally the ones who are going to catch the brunt of the frustration that you feel will be your children or your partner,or both!

    You always try to keep the personal stuff at home when you are going through something there but when you’ve had a bad day at work, I will say that it is almost impossible to leave all of those frustrations there.

  • Lon

    July 15th, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    I know like at my work we have a gym that we have access to, but the employers don’t stop to think that it is about more than just access to a workout.
    For me having access to a therapist would be a much better use of their money and my time!

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    February 28th, 2015 at 1:13 AM

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