White, middle-aged women working in British civil service jobs may want to keep an eye on their blood sugar. Those reporting high levels of job strain and little work-related social support appear to be at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.
Such clerical and support jobs usually involve high demands but limited control over job tasks and schedules, study investigator Alex Heraclides, a PhD student at University College London noted.
Heraclides and colleagues assessed job related stressors over an average of nearly 12 years in 5 895 British civil servants who were initially free of diabetes. During this time 308 workers, 92 of whom were women, developed type 2 diabetes - the kind closely linked to obesity.
The investigators failed to see an association between job stressors in male workers and diabetes risk. The story was markedly different, however, among female workers.
What the study showed
Among the women, about "10% of all type 2 diabetes cases would have been prevented," Heraclides said, had the job-related stressors of little control, high demands, and little social support been eliminated.
In the study population as a whole, workers who developed diabetes were older, more likely to be employed in low-level jobs, expressed greater stress from life events, weighed more, and had other biological characteristics that put them at heightened risk for diabetes.
Among the female workers, biological factors tied to diabetes risk as well as lower versus higher employment "only explained a third of the effect," Heraclides said.
People need to recognize the importance stress plays in their overall physical health, the researcher added, by looking at stress exposures as another unhealthy factor similar to obesity, low physical activity, and poor diet. - (Reuters Health, January 2010)