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Your job is slowly killing you…

skeleton at deskFor many people, work is stressful although necessary to pay the bills and maintain or improve your quality of life. However, is your job and that associated stress slowly leading to illness? It is quite possible.

Most people are familiar with the hormone cortisol as it’s widely associated with stress and often referred to as the stress hormone. There is also an equally, if not more important, hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA and its sulfated form DHEA-S. These two hormones are always present and offset one another which leads some scientists to use a cortisol to DHEA(S) ratio to examine the amount of stress the body is under as well as assisting in diagnosing possible stress related disorders such as PTSD. DHEA(S) has protective effects against stress and the action of cortisol, higher levels of DHEA(S) allow us to think clearly, maintain memory and cognitive performance in a stressful situation. A team of researchers found that those military members with higher DHEA(S) levels performed better during the grueling survival training known as SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape).

So what does this have to do with your job? Well, in 2013 Lennartsson and colleagues published a study that found people who were stressed at work had noticeably lower levels of DHEA-S. Subsequent research by Lennartsson et al. (2013b) found that stress at work actually affected the ability to produce DHEA-S during stress and could lead to a definite decline in health as a result. Stress has a long list of illnesses and disorders it can cause and/or exacerbate.

So if you’re stressed at work, what do you do? Well, you could find another job or learn to cope with the stress better. Learn to take steps to prevent the stress before it happens and learn how to lessen the effect of stress when its present.


Lennartsson, A., Theorell, T., Rockwood, A., Kushnir, M., & Jonsdottir, I. (2013). Perceived stress at work is associated with lower levels of DHEA-S. PLoS ONE 8(8). Retrieved fromhttp://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0072460

Lennartsson, A., Theorell, T., Kushnir, M., Bergquist, J., & Jonsdottir, I. (2013b). Perceived stress at work is associated with attenuated DHEA-S response during acute psychosocial stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(9), 1650-1657.

Taylor, M., Sausen, K., Potterat, E., Mujica-Parodi, L., Reis, J. Markham, A.,…Taylor, D. (2007). Stressful military training: Endocrine reactivity, performance, and psychological impact. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 78(12), 1143-1149.


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