Unemployment speeds up aging in men

Unemployment speeds up aging in men

Studies have shown that long-term unemployment can lead to anxiety, stress, depression and even suicide. And now, researchers say it can also accelerate the aging process, especially in men.

Study leaders at Imperial College London and the University of Oulu, Finland say the negative effects of joblessness can be seen at a cellular level in those who have been without a job.

Measuring the length of telomeres, which are structures found at the end of chromosomes, scientists discovered that the length telomeres shortened significantly in those men who were out of work.

Those who were jobless for more than two of the preceding years were twice as likely to have shorter telomeres as those who were continuously employed, the findings showed.

Short telomeres are linked to higher risk of age-related illnesses like cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, the study said.

The researchers made a point to rule out other medical or behavioral factors that might have contributed to shorter telomeres.

“There has been lots of research linking long-term unemployment with ill health. This is the first study to show this type of effect at a cellular level,” said Dr. Leena Ala-Mursula, from the University of Oulu, in a news release. “These findings raise concerns about the long-term effects of joblessness in early adulthood. Keeping people in work should be an essential part of general health promotion.”

Dr. Ala-Mursula said that men were at a higher risk from detrimental effects of unemployment than women.

Compounding the negative effects of unemployment is the fact that the job search itself can be extremely stressful, according to other recent research.

A Gallup Wellbeing survey found that nearly one-third of Americans who were unemployed for more than six months had been told by a doctor or nurse that the stress was taking its toll, possibly leading to depression.

Seventeen percent of Americans who had been unemployed for one month or less were given the same news by a doctor or nurse.

The news isn’t surprising to some physicians.

“The job losses we’ve had and the disruptions they have caused among families have put many people at risk for depression and suicide,” said Dr. Bruce Hyman, at Advocate Condell Medical Center. “Addressing these issues is even more challenging because of cuts to mental health services and funding.”

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One Comment

  1. Dr. Hyman makes a great point. I believe the physical toll unenmployment takes on you is real. The challenge is being certain people are able to get the help they need in an effective, timely manner. Is the conclusion of the effects on the telomeres specific to unemployment? Or can this research be applied more broadly to other stressful life situations? Defininitely something to think about as we find ways to reduce the stress in our lives!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.