Researchers analyzed data from 22,706 female health professionals. These women did not have heart disease and their average age was 72. What researchers discovered was that those who reported the highest levels of acute and/or chronic stress also had the highest incidences of diabetes.
In fact, those who cited they had major stressors in their lives had nearly double the risk.
Dr. Jonathan Butler, the study’s lead researcher and a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California San Francisco’s Center for the Study of Adversity and Cardiovascular Disease, said in a statement that these results are both alarming and important, especially since diabetes affects so many people. (In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 30.3 million Americans, or just over 9 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes.)
“Psychosocial stressors as risk factors for diabetes should be taken as seriously as other embraced diabetes risk factors,” Butler said.
Other risk factors include genetics, a sedentary lifestyle and, according to the Mayo Clinic, being overweight.
However, researchers are now looking elsewhere.
“We’ve been trying to understand the relationship between stress, mental health and diabetes risk for a while,” Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in a statement — as emerging evidence suggests stress may impact one’s cardio-metabolic health.
That said, it is important to note that additional research is necessary to confirm these findings. But it is never a bad idea to try to reduce your stress.