Here are the highlights of the study:
Researchers followed 10,308 British civil servants aged 35-55 over a 14-year period to sutdy the role of chronic job stress in the development of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
They examined the link between chronic job stress and metabolic syndrome, which is a group of factors that, together, increase the risk of these diseases, including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, central obesity (excessive abdominal fat, which has been linked to increased cortisol in the bloodstream, as well as several other health problems), and a few other factors.
They found that greater levels of job stress did indeed increase people’s chances of developing metabolic syndrome. The higher the stress level, the greater the chance of developing metabolic syndrome.
Social factors played a role as well. Lucky subjects with higher status jobs were less likely to have the syndrome, and those with lower status jobs were at a higher risk.
They also examined and discovered a link between metabolic syndrome and exposure to other health damaging behaviors like smoking, heavy drinking and lack of exercise, especially in men. Poor diet was also a risk factor, and tended to show up in the form of few fruits and vegetables. These factors, of course, lead to additional health problems as well as additional stress.
One possible explanation for this are that prolonged job stress may affect the nervous system. Another possible reason for this is the fact that chronic stress may affect the body’s hormonal balance and .
Here’s What You Can Do:
It’s important to take steps to take care of oneself and one’s body. The good news is that there are several things you can do to stay healthy. Not only that, but you can reverse many of the negative effects of stress in a surprisingly short amount of time, with a few relatively minor lifestyle changes:
* Reduce Daily Stressors You can reduce stress in your life by making lifestyle changes like becoming more organized, better managing time, and making other changes at work. Getting enough sleep and maintaining a positive outlook are also important in overall health. Here is a list of healthy habits that can improve your overall health.
* Learn Stress-Reducing Practices Learning and practicing a stress management technique or two can also help your health by activating your body’s relaxation response (the mechanism in your body that counteracts the ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, returning hormone levels and other systems to normal). Here are my top ten stress relieving practices; one or two of these could become an important part of your life and a valuable tool to stay healthy.
* Maintain a Healthy Weight Diet and exercise help tremendously. Another recent study found that metabolic syndrome can be reversed in as little as three weeks with healthy diet changes (65-70% complex carbohydrates, 15-20% protein, 12-15% fat and extra fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and moderate daily exercise (45-60 minutes of walking). Previous studies have found that losing even 10 lbs. makes a significant difference in lowering blood pressure, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and contributing to overall health and wellbeing, even when subjects were still obese.
By Elizabeth Scott, M.S.,