Work stress 'changes your body'

A stressful job has a direct biological impact on the body, raising the risk of heart disease, research has indicated.

The study reported in the European Heart Journal focused on more than 10,000 British civil servants. Those under 50 who said their work was stressful were nearly 70% more likely to develop heart disease than the stress-free. The stressed had less time to exercise and eat well - but they also showed signs of important biochemical changes.

The studies of Whitehall employees - from mandarins to messengers - started in the 1960s, but this particular cohort has been followed since 1985.

As well as documenting how workers felt about their job, researchers monitored heart rate variability, blood pressure, and the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood. They also took notes about diet, exercise, smoking and drinking. Then they found out how many people had developed coronary heart disease (CHD) or suffered a heart attack and how many had died of it.

Lead researcher Dr Tarani Chandola, of University College London, said: "During 12 years of follow up, we found that chronic work stress was associated with CHD and this association was stronger both among men and women aged under 50. Among people of retirement age - and therefore less likely to be exposed to work stress - the effect on CHD was less strong."

Source - BBC

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