Mentally Tiring Work May Increase Diabetes Risk in Women

Women who find their jobs mentally tiring are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology. The study findings suggest that mentally draining work, such as teaching, may increase the risk of diabetes in women. This suggests that employers and women should be more aware of the potential health risks associated with mentally tiring work.

Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly prevalent disease that places a huge burden on patients and society, and can lead to significant health problems including heart attacks, strokes, blindness and kidney failure. Numerous factors can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes including, obesity, diet, exercise, smoking or a family history of the disease. A recent review suggested that work-related stress might be associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women, but more investigation is needed.

In a French study, Dr Guy Fagherazzi and colleagues from the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at Inserm, examined the effect of mentally tiring work on diabetes incidence in over 70,000 women, during a 22-year period. Approximately 75% of the women were in the teaching profession and 24% reported finding their work very mentally tiring at the beginning of the study. The study found that women were 21% more likely to develop type-2 diabetes if they found their jobs mentally tiring at the start of the study. This was independent of typical risk factors including age, physical activity level, dietary habits, smoking status, blood pressure, family history of diabetes and BMI.

Dr Guy Fagherazzi comments, “Although we cannot directly determine what increased diabetes risk in these women, our results indicate it is not due to typical type 2 diabetes risk factors. This finding underscores the importance of considering mental tiredness as a risk factor for diabetes among women.”

Dr Guy Fagherazzi states, “Both mentally tiring work and type 2 diabetes are increasingly prevalent phenomena. What we do know is that support in the workplace has a stronger impact on work-related stress in women than men. Therefore, greater support for women in stressful work environments could help to prevent chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes.”

The team now plans to study how mentally tiring work affects patients with diabetes, including how they manage their treatment, their quality of life and the risks of diabetes-related complications. This research may help to identify new approaches that could help improve the lives of patients living with diabetes.

Source: EurekAlert!


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Long Working Hours Increases the Risk of Developing Atrial Fibrillation

People who work long hours have an increased risk of developing an irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation, according to a study of nearly 85,500 men and women published in the European Heart Journal today (Friday).

The study showed that, compared to people who worked a normal week of between 35-40 hours, those who worked 55 hours or more were approximately 40% more likely to develop atrial fibrillation during the following ten years. For every 1000 people in the study, an extra 5.2 cases of atrial fibrillation occurred among those working long hours during the ten-year follow-up.

Professor Mika Kivimaki, director of the Whitehall II Study, from the Department of Epidemiology at University College London (UK), who led the research, said: “These findings show that long working hours are associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia. This could be one of the mechanisms that explain the previously observed increased risk of stroke among those working long hours. Atrial fibrillation is known to contribute to the development of stroke, but also other adverse health outcomes, such as heart failure and stroke-related dementia.”

Prof Kivimaki and colleagues from the Individual-Participant-Data Meta-analysis in Working Populations (IPD-Work) Consortium analysed data from 85,494 men and women from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Finland who took part in one of eight studies in these countries. They assessed the participants’ working hours when they joined the studies between 1991 and 2004. Working hours were classified as less than 35 hours a week, 35-40 hours, which was considered as the standard working hours of full-time workers, 41 to 48 hours, 49 to 54 hours, and 55 hours or more a week. None of the participants had atrial fibrillation at the start of the studies.

During the ten-year follow-up period, there were 1061 new cases of atrial fibrillation. This gave an incidence rate of 12.4 per 1000 people in the study, but among the 4,484 people working 55 hours or more, the incidence was 17.6 per 1000. “Those who worked long hours had a 1.4 times higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation, even after we had adjusted for factors that could affect the risk, such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, obesity, leisure time physical activity, smoking and risky alcohol use,” said Prof Kivimaki.

“Nine out of ten of the atrial fibrillation cases occurred in people who were free of pre-existing or concurrent cardiovascular disease. This suggests the increased risk is likely to reflect the effect of long working hours rather than the effect of any pre-existing or concurrent cardiovascular disease, but further research is needed to understand the mechanisms involved.

“A 40% increased extra risk is an important hazard for people who already have a high overall risk of cardiovascular disease due to other risk factors such as older age, male sex, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, smoking and physical inactivity, or living with an established cardiovascular disease. For a healthy, young person, with few if any of these risk factors, the absolute increased risk of atrial fibrillation associated with long working hours is small.”

The study does have some limitations, including the fact that working hours were only assessed once at the beginning of the study and that the type of job (for instance, whether it involved working night shifts) was not recorded.

Source: European Society of Cardiology


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