If you always secretly thought your stressful job was taking years off your life -- you might actually be right.
A new study in the journal PLoS ONE shows the impact job stress has on certain sections of our DNA called telomeres, which have been linked in research with longevity.
Finnish scientists found that people affected by the highest levels of job stress were more likely to have short telomeres, NBC News reported.
According to NBC News:
Telomeres become shorter with age, oxidation and chemical insults. Often, when telomeres reach a critically short length, the cell dies in a process called apoptosis. Some cells don’t die. They become what scientists call "senescent." They sputter along, making genetic errors and causing damage.
The PLoS ONE Blog reported that shortened telomeres are linked with aging and possibly even cancer.
The study included 2,911 people between ages 30 and 64, who were surveyed on their exhaustion due to work. The researchers also measured the length of their leukocyte telomeres.
The authors wrote in the study: "These data suggest that work-related exhaustion is related to the acceleration of the rate of biological aging. This hypothesis awaits confirmation in a prospective study measuring changes in relative telomere length over time."
Recently, another study in the journal PLoS ONE showed that stress from phobic anxieties -- like being afraid of spiders, social situations, or the like -- is linked with shortened telomeres.
For more factors that could make you age faster, click through the slideshow below:
A new study from researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital suggests that phobic anxiety can <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/phobia-age-aging-fear-health-problems_n_1668312.html" target="_hplink">lead to faster biological aging</a>, along with other health-related problems. Author Olivia Okereke and her team studied the relationship between anxiety and telomeres, the DNA-protein complexes at the end of chromosomes that act as biological markers of aging, finding that symptoms of phobic anxiety are linked to shorter telomeres. The study,<a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0040516" target="_hplink"> published in PLoS ONE</a>, established that phobic anxiety is a <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711210102.htm" target="_hplink">plausible mechanism for accelerated aging</a>, but did not prove that anxiety is the root cause. (Image via Shutterstock)
Mom was right when she told you to put on some sunscreen at the beach; <a href="http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/news/20090204/genes-vs-behavior-what-makes-us-age" target="_hplink">sun exposure contributes to wrinkles</a> and accelerated external aging. While natural pigments provide some protection, chronic sun exposure can lead to <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004014.htm" target="_hplink">age spots and elastosis</a>, or the breakdown of elastic tissue in the skin that produces leathery skin appearance prevalent among farmers. (Image via AP)
Separating from a spouse may also leading to accelerated aging, according to a <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/05/twin-studies-explain-wrinkles-of-aging/" target="_hplink">2009 facial analysis study</a> conducted on sets of identical twins. According to the study led by a team of plastic surgeons, twins who had been divorced <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1880645,00.html" target="_hplink">looked noticeably older</a> -- 1.7 years older to be exact -- than twins who had not gone through a divorce. As <em>Time</em>'s John Cloud writes, "you are <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1880645,00.html" target="_hplink">better off staying single</a> than getting into a bad relationship." (Image via Alamy)
It's no secret that smoking is bad for one's health. The pesky habit can age people faster both on the outside, by <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1235763.stm" target="_hplink">contributing to wrinkles</a>, and on the inside since smoking is associated with a host of serious health problems. A 2005 study <a href="http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20050624/obesity-smoking-linked-to-faster-aging" target="_hplink">linked smoking with shorter telomere length</a> -- the biological markers of aging -- according to <em>WebMD</em>. More recently, Dr. Bahman Guyuron, who conducted a facial analysis study on pairs of identical twins, also noted that smoking is one of the <a href="http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/news/20090204/genes-vs-behavior-what-makes-us-age" target="_hplink">factors that contributes to accelerated aging</a>. (Image via AP)
Poor diets can also contribute to faster aging. High sugar intake, for example, can cause unhealthy weight gain, but the real aging factor is <a href="http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/nutrition/sugar-make-us-age.htm" target="_hplink">how one's body recognizes and uses sugar</a>. A 2009 study out of Montreal found that the <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305204328.htm" target="_hplink">lifespan of yeast cells increased</a> as glucose in the system decreased, or if glucose sensors were removed. Either way, over-consumption of sugar, leading to high amounts of sugar on in one's body, is linked to aging. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stringy/2536115510/" target="_hplink">Image via Flickr</a>)
According to the 2009 facial analysis study conducted on identical twins, antidepressants can also lead to accelerated aging. Researchers reviewed photographs of 186 sets of twins, finding that <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1880645,00.html" target="_hplink">those who had taken antidepressants often looked older</a> than their respective counterparts who had not. (Image via Getty)
Loneliness in old age may also contribute to people aging more quickly. In a 2011 study, 985 people were assessed on a five-point scale for loneliness. Researchers found that for each point on the scale past the baseline, <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2975650/" target="_hplink">motor decline was 40 percent more rapid</a>. More importantly, this increased rate of motor decline was also associated with a 50 percent increased risk of death. So while aging may be accelerated by divorce, loneliness is also a crucial aging factor. (Image via Shutterstock)