Increased Stress at Work Linked to Higher Risk of Diabetes

A recent study, carried out by Xinjiang Medical University, has suggested that those who work in a stressful role are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who do not.[i]

In 2014, nearly 1 in 10 adults worldwide developed diabetes. According to the World Health Organization, the disease will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.[ii].

Researchers examined data on 3,740 petroleum industry workers in China. At the start of the study, none of the workers had diabetes.[iii] The study was carried out over 12 years, between 2003 and 2014.

The results showed that the workers who had an increase in stress attributed to their work were 57% more likely to develop diabetes than workers who did not. Interestingly, workers with less coping resources, in the form of familial support friendship networks, were at a higher risk of developing diabetes, calculated at 68%.

Mika Kivimaki, a researcher at University College London, who was not involved in the study, but commented on the Chinese University’s findings, said:

Major changes in work may affect our risk of developing diabetes.[iv]

Indeed, the risk of developing diabetes, as a result of increased levels of stress, was related to a lack of clarity over responsibilities and expectations of job roles and the strains of physical labour. These factors are known as ‘task stressors’. Nevertheless, ‘organisational stressors’, such as interruptions and poor communication between colleagues, had no notable influence on the risk of diabetes.

The researchers maintain that this was not a controlled study to prove that work stress, or coping resources, influence the risk of developing diabetes.[v] What is more, the study is limited by the fact that the petroleum industry is male dominated. Irrespective of this, Dr. Pouran Faghri of the Center for Environmental Health and Health Promotion, at the University of Connecticut, added:

‘Still, the findings add to evidence that stress can play a role in the development of diabetes and suggest that it’s worth paying closer attention to the specific role played by stress on the job’.[vi]

The researchers concluded that:

‘Changes in work stressors and coping resources have an influence on the risk for type 2 diabetes, highlighting the importance of preventive measures against adverse psychosocial work conditions and reduced coping resources for diabetes prevention in the workplace.’


[i] Yulong Lian et. al, Effect of Changing Work Stressors and Coping Resources on the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: The OHSPIW Cohort Study, Diabetes Care (December 2017) <> accessed 6 February 2018

[ii] Lisa Rapaport, Increased stress at work linked to higher risk of diabetes’ (11 January 2018 Reuters) <> accessed 6 February 2018

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid

[v] Ibid

[vi] Ibid