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This Daily Activity Can Be As Dangerous As Secondhand Smoke

This Daily Activity Can Be As Dangerous As Secondhand Smoke

If you ever thought your job might be the death of you, there’s a new study proving you might actually be right. Which obviously isn’t a good thing.

A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Behavioral Science & Policy Association and authored by researchers at Harvard Business School and Stanford University has shown general stress at work can be as harmful as long-term exposure to secondhand smoke.

Meaning stress at your job could lead to your early demise. 

According to Joel Goh and Jeffry Pfeffer (who co-authored the study) it was determined that when certain factors were in play in an employee’s life they could predict the outcome of their health as well as if they were analyzing the same person and their exposure to secondhand smoke.

They performed a meta analysis of 28 other scientific studies and then drilled down on 10 key points related to stress on the job.

What they found might make you start looking for a different career.

The Boston Globe reporting on their findings wrote:

The study found work-family conflict more than doubled the likelihood that employees will experience self-reported mental health problems and increased the risk of physical health problems by more than 90 percent. Job insecurity also correlated with an increase in self-reported physical problems.

A sense of low organizational justice (defined as “a lack of perceived fairness in the organization”), increased the odds of having a physician-diagnosed condition by about 50 percent, significantly more than secondhand smoke exposure.

Not addressing workplace stress can be costly, at both a financial and human level. According to Insights by Stanford Business, workplace stress is responsible for 120,000 deaths each year and $190 billion in health care costs.

Those of you reading this might not call these findings all that surprising.

Especially for anyone who’s ever had to work the swing shift, or put in more than 16 hours a day for days on end.

What it does do is confirm what people already believe when they say “This job is gonna kill me.”

Both Goh and Pfeffer’s research did not seek to address the problem of work-related stress and how it affects the employee.

Instead they hope their findings will invite conversations to continue on the managerial level so employers can do more to protect their greatest assets.


Goh said he hopes it will lead to more discussions on how employers can implement policies that reduce employee stress.

“We’re not prescribing methodology to mitigate stress, but we’re trying to open up conversation to say ‘these things matter,'” he said.

He also hopes bosses will realize that their policies can have an impact on their employees health and encourages them to strike a balance between productivity and wellness.

“Assuming an employer cares about their employee for benevolent or bottom line reasons, we think this is something many employers haven’t thought on about,” said Goh. “We’re trying to say employers have a new control they weren’t aware about.”

These findings are a starting point for employees to begin taking positive steps to managing stress.

Some of the best ways to accomplish this are through diet, exercise, and participating in some kind of religious activity.

If your job is highly stressful you might even consider leaving it (if you can), as it could possibly help save your life.


Talk soon,

Dr. Wiggy

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