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Cleaners are three times more likely to develop diabetes than teachers, study warns

From being overweight to having high blood pressure, several factors are known to increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D).

But a new study indicates that your job could also play a key role in whether or not you’re at risk for the disease.

Researchers from Karolinska Institute have revealed that professional drivers, manufacturing workers and cleaners are three times more likely to develop T2D than university teachers and physiotherapists.

In the study, the team looked at the jobs and health of 4,550,892 people living in Sweden.

While the overall prevalence of diabetes in the group was 4.2%, their analysis revealed striking differences between the different occupational groups.

School teacher teaching students in class

 

Men working in manufacturing jobs had a prevalence of 7.8% and motor vehicle drivers had a prevalence of 8.8 %, while male computer scientists had a prevalence of just 2.5%.

Meanwhile in women, diabetes prevalence was highest in manufacturing workers (6.4%), kitchen assistants (5.5%) and cleaners (5.1%) and lowest in specialist managers (1.2%).

Further analysis revealed that men working in manufacturing were at a 49% higher risk of developing diabetes, and female workers at an 80% higher risk, when compared with the total Swedish working population.

In contrast, male college and university teachers had a 46% lower risk, while female physiotherapists and dental hygienists had a 45% lower risk.

Woman using diabetes test kit

 

The researchers believe that these differences may be linked to the prevalence of lifestyle risk factors.

For example, drivers, manufacturing workers and cleaners were significantly more likely to be overweight and to smoke than teachers and physiotherapists.

The researchers, led by Dr Sofia Carlsson, said: “The association between occupation and T2DM coincided with vast differences in prevalence of lifestyle factors – individuals in high risk occupations were more likely to be overweight, smoke and have lower physical fitness than those in low risk occupations, and this most likely contributes to a high prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes”.

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Worryingly, these differences were even higher in the over 55s.

This could be an issue when most countries are looking to increase retirement age, according to the researchers.

They added: “To reduce the future diabetes burden it is crucial to curb the inflow of new patients. Intervention studies have consistently shown it is possible to reduce diabetes incidence in high-risk groups by lifestyle modification.

“If job title can be used as a risk indicator of T2DM, it can be used to identify groups for targeted interventions, and hopefully inspire employers to implement diabetes prevention programmes tailored to their workforces”.




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