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10/29/2015 01:13 pm ET

Work Stress Can Shave Up To 3 Years Off Your Life, Study Finds

Turns out that your job could, in fact, be killing you.
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Is your job actually killing you? Turns out, it could be. A study from researchers at Harvard and Stanford documents just how many years workplace stress can shorten your life: three, depending on your race, gender and educational level.
 
Researchers called this the first study that looks at the workplace’s influence on life expectancy specifically broken down along racial, gender and educational lines.
Study subjects were divided into 18 different groups by race, education and sex. Ten different workplace factors were considered, including unemployment and layoffs, the absence of health insurance, shift work, long working hours, job insecurity and work-family conflict.

People with less education were more likely to end up in jobs with unhealthy workplace practices, the study found. People with the highest educational levels were less affected by job stress than those with the least education, the study says.

Race and gender also matter, the study found. Blacks and Hispanics lost more years of life because of work than whites did in every education and gender category. Women generally fared better than their male counterparts, with the exception of educated Hispanic women who lost significantly more of their life span to working conditions than educated Hispanic men did.

Across all groups, fear of unemployment and layoffs and lack of health insurance were the factors that exerted the biggest influences. People without health insurance are less prone to seek out preventative health tests or see doctors when they feel unwell. Those with lower educational levels are more prone to unhealthier lifestyle practices, including smoking, lack of adequate exercise and poor diets.
 
Previous studies also have documented the harmful effects of stress on our health. Chronic stress can cause disease, either because of changes in your body or the overeating, smoking and other bad habits people use to cope with stress. Job strain — high demands coupled with low decision-making latitude — is associated with increased risk of heart disease.
 
Managing stress is key to reversing these outcomes. 
 
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