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Fifteen Years of Stressful Work-Life Increases Risk of 5 Types of Cancer Among Men

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  • Stress can be triggered by number of factors including certain type of jobs.
  • Men exposed to 15 or more years of work-related stress may be at an increased risk of developing 5 types of cancers.
  • The link between work-related stress and cancer was not apparent when the exposure time was less than 15 years.

Fifteen Years of Stressful Work-Life Increases Risk of 5 Types of Cancer Among Men

Prolonged exposure to work-related stress may be linked to certain types of cancers in men.

New study states that exposure to 15-30 years of work-related stress increases likelihood of lung, colon, rectal, stomach cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma-that develops in the vessels and glands, in men.


This is the first study to assess perceived stress at work over the entire career among men.

Most men were also more likely to have held four jobs or more, with some holding more than 12 throughout their careers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S, prostate cancer is the leading cancer for men, followed by lung cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder, and melanoma.


Psychological stress which may or may not be triggered by work, can affect the mental, physical, or emotional states.

Those individuals who experience high levels of stress are at an increased risk of certain diseases, including cancer.

A 2011 study of women with triple-negative breast cancer who were treated with chemotherapy were asked about the use of beta blockers, which are medications that interfere with certain stress hormones, before and during chemotherapy.

The chance of surviving cancer treatment without a relapse was better among women who reported using beta blockers, compared to those who did not report using beta blockers.

Most of the work-related stress is brought on by numerous factors, ranging from long hours to a lack of compensation.

For the current study, researchers interviewed about 3,100 men diagnosed with 11 types of cancers, from 1979 to 1985 and about 500 population control participants.

The men were asked to describe:
  • in detail the different jobs they held during their career
  • the kind of stress experienced during the jobs
  • the reason for the stress

The findings state that prolonged exposure to perceived stress at work was associated with greater odds of cancer at 5 out of 11 sites.

The researchers found that the perceived stress among the participants was not limited to high workload and time constraints.

The participants listed the some factors like customer service, sales commissions, responsibilities, an anxious temperament, job insecurity, financial problems, challenging or dangerous work conditions, employee supervision, interpersonal conflict, and a difficult commute were all sources of stress.

The most stressful jobs included being an industrial engineer, aerospace engineer, vehicle and railway-equipment repair worker, mechanic foreman, and firefighter.

"Our study shows the importance of measuring stress at different points in an individual's working life," explained the authors of the study, in a statement.

Long-term or chronic stress, makes the body vulnerable to various diseases and also some forms of cancer by weakening the immune system.


For those participants who held stressful jobs for less than 15 years, the link between work-related stress and cancer was not found in participants. "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 explained.

The researchers conclude that further studies building on detailed stress assessment protocols considering all sources and changes over the career are necessary.

The study conducted by researchers at INRES (Institut national de la recherche scientifique), and the Université de Montréal suggest was published in Preventative Medicine.


  1. Audrey Blanc-Lapierre et al. Lifetime report of perceived stress at work and cancer among men: A case-control study in Montreal, Canada. Preventive Medicine ; (2017) doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.12.004

Source: Medindia

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