WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – According to a recent study, men who are unemployed for more than two years show signs of faster aging in their DNA.
Researchers from the University of Oulu, located in Finland and Imperial College located in London collected data from 5,620 men and women that were born in Finland in 1966. Researchers compared the lengths of telomeres in their white blood cells to the participants’ employment history for the prior three years and found that extended unemployment was associated with a shorter telomere length.
They defined extended unemployment as being unemployed for more than 500 days in three years.
According to an older study out of the University of Utah, telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes. The telomeres protect the chromosomes from degrading. Every time the cell divides, the telomeres gets shorter until the cells degrade and age.
In that older study, researchers were able to predict when the cell would run out of telomeres and stop dividing.
Researchers found in the more recent study that men who were unemployed for over 500 days are more than twice as likely to have short telomeres compared to men who were continuously employed.
However, they did not find any association between unemployment and telomere length.
Researchers did account for medical conditions, obesity, socio-economic status, and early childhood environment.
The study was able to conclude that the reduction in men’s telomeres may have been the result of stress caused by extended unemployment.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.