Fear of Job Loss Increases Risk of Diabetes, Study Finds

While the researchers found a "modest risk" of diabetes associated with job insecurity, they said it pointed to the need for policies that promoted job stability and better wages.

Employees who are worried about losing their jobs are at a 19% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to an analysis of multiple studies from the United States, Europe, and Australia.

The 19 studies involved more than 140,000 participants with an average follow-up of 9.4 years, according to results reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

While researchers say the study doesn’t prove that job insecurity causes diabetes, it could encourage policy makers to take steps to promote more job stability and better wages, according to lead author Jane Ferrie, PhD, who spoke with Reuters. They called the increased risk from job insecurity “modest.”

In the studies, participants were asked at the outset if they feared losing their jobs, and between 6% and 40% said yes, depending on the study. The risk of diabetes from job insecurity would work alongside other factors, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, but it could also aggravate these conditions due to high levels of stress.

In the United States, policy leaders have pointed to the “workaholic culture,” where the amount of unused vacation is at an all-time high, with 4 in 10 Americans not using all available vacation days. The United States is also one of the few countries that does not have guaranteed sick days, so many workers will not take time off to go to a doctor or get routine screenings, a problem that has been cited in health literature for years.

Approximately 9% of Americans and about 10% of the population worldwide has the disease, according to data from the CDC and the World Health Organization. The vast majority have T2D.

Reference

Ferrie JE, Virtanen M, Jokela M, et al. Job insecurity and risk of diabetes: a meta-analysis [published online October 3, 2016]. CMAJ, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.150942.