Work Stress Linked to Increased Cancer Risk in Men

Man feeling stressed at workMen who experience chronic work-related stress may be at an increased risk of developing colon, lung, rectal, and stomach cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a study published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

The Link Between Job Stress and Cancer in Men

The study, which is the first of its kind, looked at the effects of men’s work stress across the span of a career. Researchers interviewed 3,103 Montreal cancer patients who developed one of 11 types of cancer between 1979 and 1985.

Participants gave detailed work histories, including the types of jobs they had held, whether those jobs had been stressful, and the causes of the stress. Participants held an average of four jobs during their lifetime, but some had more than a dozen jobs.

Men employed as firefighters, aerospace engineers, mechanic foremen, industrial engineers, and as vehicle and railway equipment workers reported the highest levels of job stress. Time management issues, financial concerns, job insecurity, hazardous working conditions, and job-related demands ranked among the leading causes of work stress.

Researchers compared men who later developed cancer with 512 controls who had no cancer history. Participants who experienced 15-30 years of job-related stress were more likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer, rectal cancer, colon cancer, and stomach cancer.

Does Stress Cause Cancer?

The study did not establish a causal connection between stress and cancer, but it does point to a significant correlation. Its authors caution that it’s possible men with cancer overreported previous stress levels. If, however, the men’s self-reports are accurate, the study strengthens the public health significance of stress.

Chronic stress has been linked to many health issues. Those include chronic headaches, cardiovascular disease, and pain. People with stress may develop unhealthy habits, such as overeating or smoking, that can lead to further health problems. Stress is also linked to an increased risk of experiencing mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.


  1. Blanc-Lapierre, A., Rousseau, M., Weiss, D., El-Zein, M., Siemiatycki, J., & Parent, M. (2017). Lifetime report of perceived stress at work and cancer among men: A case-control study in Montreal, Canada. Preventive Medicine, 96, 28-35. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.12.004
  2. How stress affects your health. (2013). Retrieved from

© Copyright 2017 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Ariel

    January 31st, 2017 at 10:13 AM

    My husband just called me a few minutes ago and said that he has an appointment with his doctor this afternoon because his blood pressure has been through the roof today. He is under so much stress at work and you never think that something like this could happen to someone so young but here we are and it is literally scaring me half to death.
    I don’t know what I would do without him in my life and the though of something bad being wrong with him just terrifies me.

  • Kristy

    January 31st, 2017 at 2:07 PM

    I kind of think that a large part of this for men is that they feel like it is their job to be the breadwinner of the family and with that comes a sort of stoicism that they need to maintain. They don’t ever want to let someone in the see that there is real angst in there; instead they choose to hold onto all of that on the inside which in turn leads to some dramatic health problems later on down the road.

    We all need to remember that talking about the things that hurt us or that stress us out is actually good for us, and when you allow yourself to have a strong support system then you allow yourself to be a much healthier person overall.

  • Geneva

    February 3rd, 2017 at 8:06 AM

    would we be correct also assuming that increased risk for heart disease?

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.