Stress at work 'very unlikely' to cause cancer

14 February 2013

Work stress is very unlikely to lead to a cancer diagnosis, although it can cause other contributing factors to the disease, a study has found.

Research by the IPD-Work Consortium, led by UCL and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, said work-related stress is not directly linked to the development of colorectal, lung, breast or prostate cancers.

However, stress can cause chronic inflammation which has been shown to play a part in the development of cancer. Also, stressed people are more likely to smoke, drink heavily and be obese – all of which are cancer risk factors.

The research team analysed 12 European studies involving 116,000 participants aged 17 to 70 and found five per cent developed some form of cancer over a 12-year period.

Researchers found no evidence between job strain and overall risk.

Professor Mika Kivimäki said: "Reducing work stress may improve the well-being of the employees, but it is unlikely to have a marked impact on cancer burden at population-level."

Posted by Edward Bartel

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