Is unemployment accelerating your aging?

BY Robert Lamb / POSTED November 20, 2013
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Underfleshed, underemployed. (Ferran Traite Soler/Getty) Underfleshed, underemployed. (Ferran Traite Soler/Getty)

Men, do you feel like unemployment is wrinkling your skin and greying your hair? Well there just might be something to that according to a new joint study from Finland and the United Kingdom published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Oulu studied DNA samples from 5,620 men and women born in Finland in 1966. Specifically, they looked at their telomeres.

What are telomeres?

Telomeres are those ever-unraveling protective caps composed of short DNA sequences on the tips of chromosomes. See, short telomeres have been linked to higher risk of age-related diseases. And if telomeres grow too short, they reach their Hayflick limit, the point at which they no longer protect the chromosomes from damage. All sorts of bad stuff happens then.

Study Findings
The study found that men who had been unemployed for more than two years in the preceding three-year period were more than twice as likely to posses shortened telomeres. That’s compared to employed Fins of course. And the study accounted for social, biological and behavioral factors that might have prevented an individual’s gainful employment.

But they didn’t see the tend in females, raising all sorts of questions for future studies. Are women better at handling unemployment stress? Are men simply worse at it? How much of this can be accounted to biology and how much of it is social conditioning.?

Future studies will have to investigate. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to this:


About the author: Robert Lamb is a senior writer and podcaster at HowStuffWorks, where he co-hosts Stuff to Blow Your Mind with Julie Douglas. He has a love for monsters, an aversion to slugs and a hankering for electronic music.

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