Study: Teachers and women with mentally exhausting jobs at higher risk for diabetes

The French study involved 70,000 women over a 22-year period, 75% of whom were teachers.

Teaching, long considered selfless work, may also be more dangerous than you thought. Women with jobs that are mentally exhausting are at risk for a  serious health problem: Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology. The findings of the study show that brain-draining work – such as teaching, the job most studied – increased the risk of the disease in women.


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The French study, led by Dr. Guy Fagherazzi and researchers from the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at Inserm, looked at the “effect of mentally tiring work on diabetes incidence” in over 70,000 women over at 22-year period. Approximately 75% of those women were teachers, and 24% reported their work as being mentally tiring at the beginning of the study.

That 24% was the key. The study found that women were 21% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if they reported their work to be mentally tiring at the beginning of the study. This was independent of risk factors such as age, physical activity, diet, smoking, blood history, BMI, and family history of diabetes.

“Although we cannot directly determine what increased diabetes risk in these women, our results indicate it is not due to typical type 2 diabetes risk factors,” said Dr. Fagherazzi, in a release. “This finding underscores the importance of considering mental tiredness as a risk factor for diabetes among women.”

Fagherazzi implored workplaces to reach out to women working in stressful situations.

“What we do know is that support in the workplace has a stronger impact on work-related stress in women than men,” Fagherazzi said. “Therefore, greater support for women in stressful work environments could help to prevent chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes.”

The research team plans next on studying on mentally exhausting work affects people who already have diabetes, and how they manage their treatment, any diabetes-related complications, and quality of life.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.