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Is Stress At Work Killing You?

A team of researchers from Harvard and Stanford Universities examined 10 categories of job-related stress – including long hours, fear that you might lose your job, and lack of health insurance – and found they were linked to health problems that contribute to 120,000 deaths a year. Their conclusion suggests that on-the-job stress takes more of an annual toll than diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease or the flu. Underlying the deaths are other contributing conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and mental health problems. The researchers also reported that people who worked long hours reported more high blood pressure, and noted correlations between occupational injuries and long working hours the previous week. They commented that the stress of long hours, shift work, perception of unfairness in the workplace and conflicting priorities between work and home were linked to worse health and unhealthy habits - including smoking, alcoholism and over-eating. The cost of all these health problems added up to $125 to $190 billion dollars a year, between five to eight percent of national spending on health care. The researchers suggested that cost-conscious employers could trim some of those expenditures by giving attention to the sources of employee stress.