Entries in Premature Death (1)


7 Ways to Work Yourself to Death

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Just as work can enrich our lives, in many ways it can shorten them -- a fact that cuts across socioeconomic levels, ages and nationalities.

A growing body of research says that one's work can be taxing on his or her health.  ABC News' Medical Unit has learned seven ways that work can negatively affect our health:

1.  Distracted Driving:  Taking the Office on the Road.  Cell phones, smart phones and personal digital assistants have improved the ability to conduct work at all hours and in almost any setting, as long as you can get a signal.

But federal figures hint at the toll exacted by bringing the office into the driver's seat. During 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 5,870 people died in crashes in which police cited distracted driving as a contributing factor.

2.  Sitting Still: When Work's Got You Chained to the Desk.  Doctors, nutritionists and other health professionals tell us time and again how sitting on a couch, snacks at the ready, contributes to heart disease and diabetes.

A study published online last month and in this month's print issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found some evidence that sedentary workers were at an increased risk of dying -- even if they were diligent about exercising in their off-hours.

Lead author Jannique van Uffelen, a research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, led the review of 43 studies, involving more than 2 million workers, which examined sedentary time at the office.  She and her colleagues found some limited evidence linking hours spent sitting at work with both diabetes and early death.

3.  Work Is Hell: When You Have a Bad Boss or Hostile Workplace.  Multiple studies in recent years have focused on the impact of a hostile workplace and a bad boss on a worker's physical and mental health. It turns out that these factors can be life-shortening.

4.  Wide Awake: When Work Disrupts Your Sleep.  Work stress can creep up subtly; the cumulative effect of insufficient sleep, whether caused by interrupted or poor sleep, insomnia or the body's inability to adjust to shift work can also speed your demise. Scientific evidence for how this happens is accumulating.

An analysis of several studies, published in May 2010, consistently linked getting less than six hours of sleep to an increased risk of dying early.

5.  Walking Papers: Getting Laid Off or Fired.  An intriguing study published in the May 2009 issue of the American Economic Review highlighted the life-threatening impact of losing a job.  The stress associated with losing a job is often described as one of the most trying life events, along with divorce and death of a loved one.

6.  Burning the Midnight Oil: Working Overtime or Working Late.  In May of this year, a study of British civil servants found that those working 10 to 11 hours a day (compared with the traditional seven-hour British workday), were as much as 60 percent more likely to suffer heart disease or die prematurely than those working regular hours.

7.  Risky Workplace: When Occupational Hazards Expose You to Danger.  Occupational health hazards, sometimes caused by exposures to dangers not visible to the naked eye, can shorten lives, research shows.

In late October 2009, British government officials announced that asbestos was the top workplace killer in Great Britain and that about a quarter of the 4,000 people dying from asbestos-related illnesses every year were tradesmen such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters who come in contact while working in homes and other buildings with the heat-resistant mineral used for years in insulation.

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