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Work Stress Could Trigger Adult Asthma

Update Date: Sep 22, 2014 07:04 PM EDT

Job insecurity can boost a person's risk of developing first-time asthma, according to a new study.

Previous epidemiological studies of asthma and stress revealed that work-related anxiety was particularly influential in boosting asthma risk.

The latest study involved just over 7,000 working adults from the German Socio-Economic Panel study between 2009 and 2011.

Researchers noted that the study took part during a period of economic turmoil in Europe. In 2009, participants were asked to guess how likely they might lose their jobs over the next two years.

The findings revealed that adults who felt that they were more likely to lose their job over the next two years tended to be, younger, single, less educated and have lower monthly incomes compared to those who felt the risk was low or non-existent.

The feeling of job insecurity also increased the risk of depression and decreased the likelihood of being employed on permanent contracts.

After accounting for various sociodemographic factors, depression, and lifestyle, researchers found that asthma risk seemed to rise with increasing job insecurity. Researchers found an individual's risk of developing first-time asthma rose by 24 percent for every 25 percent increase in perceived threat of job loss. Furthermore the risk of asthma increased by 60 percent in participants who believed that they were very likely to lose their jobs compared to those who thought job loss was unlikely or non-existent.

Researchers wrote that the latest findings are "consistent with epidemiological studies, which have shown that psychological stress in particular work related stress, may be risk factors for new onset asthma," according to a journal release.

"Our findings may also provide a possible explanation for the increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms during the recent economic crisis in the UK," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in BMJ-British Medical Journal.

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