Work Stress as Bad as Secondhand Smoke

Study finds it can be just as dangerous to health
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2015 5:08 PM CDT
Work Stress as Bad as Secondhand Smoke

Stressed at work? You may as well be breathing in secondhand cigarette smoke, a new study suggests. Researchers from Harvard and Stanford did a meta-analysis of 228 studies on workplace stress, UPI reports; they found that "the effect of workplace stress is about as large as that of secondhand tobacco smoke," the study states. Specifically, work-family conflict raises the odds that a person will self-report poor physical health by more than 90% and job insecurity raises those same odds by 50%; having high job demands increases the odds of actually being diagnosed with an illness by 35% while a lack of perceived fairness in the workplace increases those odds by 50%; and working long hours increases mortality by nearly 20%.

The researchers note that while more and more companies are adding lifestyle and health programs, they need to also focus on addressing work stress. "Wellness programs are great at doing what they’re designed to do," a researcher tells the Boston Globe. "But they’re targeting [employee behavior]," such as diet and exercise, "not targeting the cause of stress. There are two sides of the equation and right now we focus on one side. We’re trying to call attention to the other side, which is the effect of managerial practices." (More stress stories.)

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