A certain amount of stress can be positive, but excessive workplace worries such as having little or no control over what you do on the job is a big factor in whether you develop diabetes, especially if you’re a woman, according to a Canadian study released today.
“How men and women react to stress is not totally clear, but it’s clear that in the work environment, stress can have an impact on health,”
Dr. Richard Glazier, one of the Toronto researchers who conducted the study published Tuesday, said in an interview with CBC News.
With diabetes a growing public health concern, Glazier and his research colleagues with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and the University of Toronto examined the relationships between the “psychosocial” work environment and the incidence of diabetes among people between ages 35 and 60 who weren’t self-employed. They note that there has been a large amount of work examining the relationship between the psychosocial work environment and high blood pressure and heart disease, but few studies examining work stress and the risk of diabetes risk.
Glazier said the study finding — that low levels of job control were associated with an increased risk of diabetes among women, but not among men — is consistent with the only other population-based study of this type, undertaken in Sweden.
Although it wasn’t determined why women are more at risk of diabetes because of workplace stress — a subject for followup research — there are some theories.
Glazier said women and men tend to react differently to stress and the type of jobs they do may also play a role. Women have a different hormonal makeup than men, may tend to turn to unhealthy habits like eating so-called comfort foods containing fat and sugar, and generally have less physical jobs.
“The mind and body are very connected, and the body releases stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol,” he says. “These can help ward off threats, but when released constantly, they take a toll on the body and they really affect how the body handles sugars and fat, and can lead toward the development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.”
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