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Could Your Stressful Job Be Aging You?

Jerry Bunkers, flickr

If you feel older than your years, maybe your job is to blame. New research proves stress at work could actually make your cells age at an accelerated rate.

In a recent study, Kirsi Ahola of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health focused on DNA sections called telomeres, tail-like sequences that cap the ends of our chromosomes. Telomere shortening is an indicator of cell aging, and Ahola found that people with a lot of job stress tended to be most affected.

And since telomere shortening has been associated with Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, those workers could face age-related diseases sooner than they otherwise might.

But even outside life stressors like marital woes and poverty could affect telomere length, and recent research has also found that children aren’t immune, either — some kids who are bullied have DNA that ages faster than it should.

“When you get a high enough dose of stress, hardly anyone is resilient,” explained Aoife O’Donovan, a research fellow at the University of California San Francisco. “People can be resilient to one or two types of stressors in certain periods of time, but once it becomes cumulative, across domains, it’s rare to find resilient people.”


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