Several studies have shown that massage therapy lessens workers’ stress and pain, and that employee stress is a growing health hazard.

New research indicates shift work, defined as work performed primarily outside standard working hours, at a young age is associated with elevated long-term cortisol levels and increased body mass inde, according to an Endocrine Society press release. Previous studies have shown that long-term elevated cortisol levels lead to increased abdominal obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular risk.

“Our findings show that cortisol might play an important part in the development of obesity and increased cardiovascular risk for those working in shifts,” said Laura Manenschijn, M.D., of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and lead author of the study. “Unraveling the role of cortisol in the health problems found in shift workers could result in new approaches to prevent cardiovascular damage in this specific group.”

This is the first study that shows that working in shifts leads to changes in long-term cortisol levels, suggesting that the stress hormone cortisol might be one of the factors contributing to the increased cardiovascular risks of shift workers.

The study will run in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Related articles:

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• U.S. and Canadian Workplace Stress is a “Growing Health Hazard”