Type 2 diabetes: Work stress may raise risk in women

checked by Isabel Godfrey
A new review featuring in the
European Journal of Endocrinology suggests that a stressful work environment
may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women.

More than 100 million people
in the United States have diabetes or prediabetes, according to the latest
Over 9 percent of the U.S.
population is living with diabetes, and more than 84 million people are living
with prediabetes — a condition that is bound to develop into full-blown type 2
diabetes without treatment.
Risk factors for type 2
diabetes include a lack of physical activity, being overweight or having
obesity, being aged 45 years or older, having high cholesterol and high blood
pressure, or having a family history of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.
Psychological factors may also
play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Living with depression may
make the risk higher, and a new study now suggests that work-related stress may
also increase the likelihood of developing the condition, at least for women.
Guy Fagherazzi, a senior
research scientist at the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population
Health at the research institute Inserm in Paris, France, led the new study.
tiring work raises risk by 21 percent
Fagherazzi and his colleagues
set out to examine whether there was a link between “mentally tiring
work” and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in more than 70,000 women over
a period of 22 years between 1992 and 2014.
About 75 percent of the women
in the study were teachers, and 24 percent of them said at the start of the
study that their work was “very mentally tiring.”
Throughout the study period,
4,187 women developed type 2 diabetes. The analysis revealed that the
prevalence of diabetes was considerably higher among women who deemed their job
to be more mentally draining.
Specifically, those who said
that their job was “very” mentally taxing at the start of the study
were 21 percent more likely to develop the condition than women with
“little or not mentally tiring work.”
When the researchers adjusted
for other factors, including unhealthful lifestyle habits and cardiometabolic
risk factors, such as high blood pressure or a high body mass index, the
association between work and diabetes risk stayed the same. Fagherazzi and colleagues
“These observational
results suggest the importance of taking into consideration the potential
long-term metabolic impact of work-related stress for women working in a
demanding environment.”
The study’s senior author
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.”
He goes on, “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,” concludes the researcher.
In the near future, he and his
team plan to examine the effect of mentally tiring work on people who are
already living with type 2 diabetes. The researchers hope that their findings
will aid the development of new ways to manage the condition.
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.