Can unemployment make you age faster?

Working individuals may age slower than those who are unemployed.

You may say that your stressful job is giving you gray hairs, but a recent study shows that men who are unemployed for a lengthy period of time may age more quickly than their working counterparts. In a study published by online journal PLoS One, those who have been unemployed for a lengthy period of time have shorter telomeres. As you may know, the shortening of telomeres plays a crucial role in aging.

"Shorter telomeres are linked to a higher risk of age-related conditions, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes," study author Jessica Buxton, a research associate in the department of medicine at Imperial College London, said in a statement. "It seems that long-term unemployment is the latest example of a stressful life experience that may trigger permanent changes to the cell's DNA."

For the study, Buxton and her colleagues looked at DNA strands from more than 5,600 individuals born in Finland in 1966.  Researchers analyzed present-day DNA as well as that which was collected during various stages of the participants' lives.

According to Curtis Reisinger, a clinical psychologist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., shorter telomeres may be a result of constant stress in unemployed individuals, which often leads to hormonal changes. On the contrary, those who are overworked are also likely to experience increased stress and anxiety. The study proves that it is important to find a work-life balance.

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