Bullying and violence at work could increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to Scandinavian researchers.
Men were reported to be 61 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes when exposed to negative workplace behavior, while women had a 36 per cent increased risk.
However, the findings observed only an association and there is no concrete evidence to say that exposure to office bullying causes type 2 diabetes.
The study involved 45,905 men and women aged between 40 and 65 from across Swede, Denmark and Finland. None of the participants had diabetes at the start of the research.
A study team led by Dr Tianwei Xu, Department of Public Health and the University of Copenhage, asked the participants to report any negative behaviour in the workplace from the previous 12 months.
They discovered nine per cent of the people in the study had experienced some kind of office bullying across an 11-year period, while 12 per cent were exposed to workplace violence or threats of violence.
After adjustment for variables such as alcohol consumption and mental health difficulties, being bullied at work was associated with a 46 per cent higher risk of type 2 diabetes – 61 per cent for men, 36 per cent for women.
Although the findings show a link between workplace bullying and type 2 diabetes, researchers do not know exactly why one might trigger the other. One hypothesis is that stress might contribute to the diabetes diagnosis in some way.
The authors wrote: “Being bullied is regarded as a severe social stressor that may activate the stress response and lead to a range of downstream biological processes that may contribute towards the risk of diabetes.
“There is a moderate and robust association between workplace bullying, violence and the development of type 2 diabetes. As both bullying and violence or threats of violence are common in the workplace we suggest that prevention policies should be investigated as a possible means to reduce this risk.”
The findings appear online in the journal Diabetologia.

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