Diabetes news: Being bullied at work could dramatically raise your risk

A study of around 46,000 people found those picked on by colleagues were 46 per cent more likely to fall victim to the life-threatening illness.

It's the first time a link between bullying and type 2 diabetes has been discovered and scientists suspect it could be due to a rise of comfort-eating fuelled by emotional upset.

Men appear more vulnerable to the phenomenon than their women counterparts - 61 per cent compared to 36 per cent.Meanwhile experiencing physical violence or threats at work - usually from customers or patients rather than other staff - increased the risk for both sexes by a quarter - 26 per cent.

The findings come in the wake of recent research showing workplace bullying is a growing problem in Britain - with almost one-in-three - 29 per cent - suffering.

Professor Naja Rod, an epidemiologist at Copenhagen University, said: "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".

The researchers suggested changes caused by stress hormones could be responsible as it could harm metabolism and increase the risk of obesity by altering hormonal regulation of appetite.

The emotional effect of workplace bullying may also trigger comfort eating, they said.

Prof Rod said: "It is likely both workplace bullying and violence can induce comfort eating behaviour - or increase the risk of experiencing negative emotions - and further contribute to weight gain and subsequent development of type 2 diabetes."

Two years ago a report by the UK's conciliation service Acas warned bullying in the workplace was growing - with many people too afraid to speak up about it.

It said it was receiving about 20,000 calls a year about harassment and bullying at work. Some callers to its helpline had even considered committing suicide.

Prof Rod's team said previous research has shown issues such as job insecurity and long working hours - with the consequent psychological impacts - were associated with a moderately higher risk of diabetes.

It has also been found bullying and violence can reduce self-esteem and the ability to cope.

The study found about one-in-eleven (9 per cent) participants had been exposed to workplace bullying in the previous 12 months - defined as unkind or negative behaviour from colleagues.

Almost one-in-eight (12 per cent) had been on the receiving end of workplace violence - being the target of actions or threats - during the same period.

The 19,280 male and 26,625 female participants in Denmark, Sweden and Finland were followed for an average of about eleven-and-a-half years.

Type 2 diabetes usually comes on in middle-age and is linked to lifestyle - such as unhealthy eating.Prof Rod said: "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 prevention policies should be investigated as a possible means to reduce this risk."

In the UK research has found women (34 per cent) are more likely to be victims of bullying than men (23 per cent).The highest prevalence is among 40 to 59-year-olds - where 34 percent of people are affected.

In nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of cases the bullying is carried out by a manager.More than one in three (36 per cent) people who report being bullied at work leave their job because of it.

In the UK there are more than 4 million people living with diabetes - about nine-in-ten of whom have the type 2 form.

The study was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

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