New research shows that being unemployed for over 2 years increases signs of ageing and is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in men.
The research involved reviewing DNA samples from 5,620 men and women in Finland and the analysis was carried out by researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Oulu in Finland.
The researchers specifically studied the length of telomeres at the end of participants’ chromosomes. Telomeres are structures which prevent degradation of genetic code of the chromosomes and also prevent chromosomes from fusing. Short lengths of telomeres are linked with higher risks of heart disease and cancer as well as type 2 diabetes.
The research team used blood cells, from male and female participants that were 31 years old, to review the DNA. The analysis showed that men that had been unemployed for at least 2 years, of a 3 year window before the samples were collected, had twice the likelihood of having short telomeres than participants that were employed throughout the 3 year window.
A similar trend, however, was not seen within women and further research would be needed to assess whether there are clear gender differences in the effects of unemployment on health.
To reduce the chance of bias, the researchers took into account a number of factors, including social, biological and behavioural ones, into account. This was necessary as people with medical conditions that prevented them from working could have introduced bias.

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