Researchers from University College London have found strong evidence linking on-the-job stress to an increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. According to a study published in the January 21 issue of British Medical Journal (2006; doi:10.1136/bmj.38693.435301.80), stress at work is an important risk factor for metabolic syndrome.

“The study shows that there is a dose-response association between exposure to work stress and the metabolic syndrome,” Tarani Chandola, lead author of the study, told HealthDay News. “There was a stepwise increase in the odds of the metabolic syndrome with increasing levels of exposure to work stress.”

The investigators followed more than 10,000 British government employees between the ages of 35 and 55 for a period of 14 years. Blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other indicators of metabolic syndrome were measured, as were levels of job stress. Data analysis showed that employees with chronic job-related stress were more than twice as likely to develop metabolic syndrome as people without work stress.