It’s been understood for years that job stress can affect your health, but now researchers from Canada have released the first study linking ongoing work-related stress perceived by men and cancer.
Investigators from University of Quebec and University of Montreal surveyed males who have held four to 12 jobs during their careers. The men who had reported high levels of work stress for at least 15 years (and in some cases, more than 30 years) were shown to have increased risks of developing five cancers: lung, colon, rectal, stomach, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Also, the study authors discovered that the five most stressful occupations were: firefighter, industrial engineer, aerospace engineer, mechanic foreman, and vehicle and railway-equipment repair worker.
The men listed numerous sources of job stress — including workloads, deadlines, customer service, job insecurity, financial difficulties, challenging or dangerous work conditions, interpersonal conflicts and difficult commutes, as well as their own anxious temperaments.
“One of the biggest flaws in previous cancer studies is that none of them assessed work-related stress over a full working lifetime, making it impossible to determine how the duration of exposure to work-related stress affects cancer development,” the authors stated in a press release. “Our study shows the importance of measuring stress at different points in an individual’s working life.”
“I’m not too surprised by these results,” Jack F. Jacoub, MD, oncologist and director of thoracic oncology at MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells Yahoo Beauty.
He explains that the development of any type of cancer is a “complex scenario.”
“We believe it’s an interplay between someone’s genetic disposition — someone’s genetic makeup — and their environment,” says Jacoub. “When you consider the environment, it’s everything — what you eat, what you put into yourself, how much activity you have, what you do during the day, perhaps even your mood. And when you consider stress and work, that’s a very significant component of your environment. So it makes a lot of sense that there would be a relationship between that and with human diseases.”
In fact, Jacoub points to previous research which concluded that adults with type A personalities were more likely to be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Another study, published in the Journal Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, stated that stressful habits and type A behaviors are associated with a high risk of stroke — in males and females.
As for the current investigation, Jacoub advises the men who work in these overly stressful industries to focus on their lifestyle choices.
“What people have to understand is that there are some things within their control, and there are other things that are simply not in their control,” he states. “The things in one’s control would be dietary habits, exercise levels, avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, and finding activities that relieve stress.”
And he emphasizes that establishing daily or weekly stress management rituals could serve as a preventative strategies.
“Whether it’s activities, reading, spending time with family, whatever it is — understanding that there has to be a balance in life,” concludes Jacoub. “Finding that balance is what all of us should be trying to do.”