Diabetes risk

Mentally tiring work could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes for women

by Barbara Hewitt on March 20, 2019

Women who find their jobs mentally tiring, such as teachers, are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a new study carried out by French researchers.

They are suggesting that both women and employers should be aware of the potential risk as type 2 diabetes can lead to significant health problems including heart attacks, strokes, blindness and kidney failure.

Teacher Mentally Tired

(Photo by Pavel Ilyukhin)

It is well known that numerous factors can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including obesity, diet, exercise, smoking or a family history of the disease. This latest study looked at over 70,000 women over a 22-year period.

The study, led by Dr Guy Fagherazzi from the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at Inserm, examined the effect of mentally tiring work on diabetes incidence.

Around 75% of the women were in the teaching profession and 24% reported finding their work very mentally tiring at the beginning of the study.

They found that women were 21% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if they found their jobs mentally tiring at the start of the study. This was independent of typical risk factors including age, physical activity level, dietary habits, smoking status, blood pressure, family history of diabetes and BMI.

‘Although we cannot directly determine what increased diabetes risk in these women, our results indicate it is not due to typical type 2 diabetes risk factors. This finding underscores the importance of considering mental tiredness as a risk factor for diabetes among women,’ said Fagherazzi.

‘Both mentally tiring work and type 2 diabetes are increasingly prevalent phenomena. What we do know is that support in the workplace has a stronger impact on work-related stress in women than men. Therefore, greater support for women in stressful work environments could help to prevent chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes,’ he added.

The team now plans to study how mentally tiring work affects patients with diabetes, including how they manage their treatment, their quality of life and the risks of diabetes-related complications.

They believe that this research may help to identify new approaches that could help improve the lives of patients living with diabetes.

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