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Too Much Stress Can Trigger Type 2 Diabetes

There are many risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. While obesity might be the most common, other factors such as age, ethnicity, family history, illnesses and medications, as well as drinking or smoking may also play a role. Some other factors might even go ignored altogether, like a lack of sleep, or too much stress. Too much stress has long been linked with detrimental health effects, such as reduced immunity, insomnia, and even heart disease, anxiety, or depression. In the past, it had been suspected that too much stress might simply lead to other risk factors for developing diabetes, like the already mentioned lack of sleep, little exercise, excessive eating, or to risky behaviors such as drinking, substance abuse, or smoking. However, new research from the Technical University of Munich, suggests that too much stress alone can trigger type 2 diabetes – even if other risk factors are not present. Karl-Heinz Ladwig, the lead study author, has been studying the effects of low-control, high stress jobs on 5,000 individuals for over the course of 12 years. These are jobs that have a high level of strain, and offer little control to the worker on how the work gets done. In the beginning of the study, none of the individuals had diabetes, and their work routines were assessed to determine the level of their job demands, as well as their level of leadership and responsibility within their positions. These individuals were then divided into categories of either high or low job strain, or as active or passive (meaning, the level of control over their position). People with high job demands were considered as high job strain, and if they had little leadership role over their job position, they were considered as passive. Of the total people in the study, almost 300 individuals developed type 2 diabetes over the follow-up period, and around 7% of them came from the high job strain group. These folks were around 63% more likely to develop diabetes. While some of the participants were more likely female, more likely physically inactive, smokers, with lower education levels, none of the variables made a difference in diabetes risk based on job strain. The researchers surmised that the likely culprit for stress-induced diabetes is the hormone cortisol, which can change the way the body regulates blood sugar. It is important to note that our cumulative lifetime choices will play the biggest role in our risk for developing type diabetes – from unhealthy habits, to an ongoing stressful environment. So how can we combat stress?

  • Eat right, exercise regularly, and take your medications on time.
  • See your doctor if you are experiencing new symptoms, or if you are having trouble sleeping.
  • Set priorities, and stick by them.
  • Avoid dwelling on problems, and seek help from trained professionals when you feel you are unable to cope with stress, or life challenges.
  • Make time for activities you enjoy, whether alone, or with friends and family.
  • Consider meditation exercises, or pursuing yoga or tai chi.

We must make time to unwind from the stressful routines of our modern lives. Too much stress can affect our health as much as any other bad habit. To value our down time, is to value our health and our lives.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.