Don’t Let Work Stress Take a Toll on Your Body

Don’t Let Work Stress Take a Toll on Your Body

Job stress can increase the risk of premature death—if you let it.

Comic vaudevillian George Burns lived to be 100 by following his own advice: “If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension.”

A new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology confirms his sage observation. Researchers tracked around 100,000 men for more than 13 years. The researchers looked at guys with high-stress jobs over which they had little control or for which they gained little recognition. They then looked at those guys who also had a disease called cardiometabolic syndrome—also called metabolic syndrome—a combination of insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, elevated lousy LDL cholesterol, hypertension and belly fat. The syndrome affects around 34 percent of Americans. Well, that mix of job stress and cardiometabolic syndrome gave those guys a 68 percent higher risk of premature death than men with the syndrome but without the stress.

The good news? Your stress response is within your control. You can tamp down your response with aerobic exercise daily (dispels stress hormones), meditation, by volunteering for something you care about and relying on friends and family (for keeping things in proportion). And there’s the Sharecare app for iOS and Android, where you can track your stress levels daily.

So tackle each risk factor in the cardiometabolic syndrome that applies to you: Work to upgrade your nutrition, reduce belly fat, control blood sugar levels and take it easy on the alcohol (avoid self-medicating for stress control)!

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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