In Summary
  • he relationships were observed in men who had been exposed to 15 to 30 years of work-related stress and, in some cases, more than 30 years.
  • A link between work-related stress and cancer was not found in participants who had held stressful jobs for less than 15 years.
  • The most stressful jobs included those of a firefighter, industrial engineer, aerospace engineer, mechanical foreman and vehicle and railway equipment repair worker.

FOR MEN, PROLONGED exposure to work-related stress has been linked to an increased likelihood of lung, colon, rectal and stomach cancers and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), a branch of Université du Québec in Canada, wrote on its website on Monday.

These are findings by researchers at INRS and Université de Montréal in the country who had conducted a study to assess the link between cancer and work-related stress perceived by men throughout their working life.

On average, the study’s participants had held four jobs.

Significant links to five of a total of 11 cancers considered in the research were found. The relationships were observed in men who had been exposed to 15 to 30 years of work-related stress and, in some cases, more than 30 years. A link between work-related stress and cancer was not found in participants who had held stressful jobs for less than 15 years.

The most stressful jobs included those of a firefighter, industrial engineer, aerospace engineer, mechanical foreman and vehicle and railway equipment repair worker. For the same individual, stress varied depending on the job held. Researchers were able to document changes in perceived work-related stress.

The research also shows that perceived stress is not limited to high workload and time constraints. Customer service, sales commissions, responsibilities, a participant’s anxious temperament, job insecurity, financial problems, challenging or dangerous work conditions, employee supervision, interpersonal conflict and difficult commute were all sources of stress listed by the participants.

“Our study shows the importance of measuring stress at different points in an individual’s working life,” the authors of the report, titled “Lifetime report of perceived stress at work and cancer among men: A case-control study in Montreal, Canada”, say. 

The study is in the journal Preventive Medicine.