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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Note/Non-Traditional Jobs

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on the health risks of holding down a non- traditional job.


CURWOOD: Just ahead, President Bush celebrates Earth Day. First this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: A federally funded study has found striking gender differences in the type of job someone holds down and the corresponding incidence of heart disease and death.

Beginning in the mid ’80s, almost 3,700 people filled out surveys in which they were asked about such things as education level, marital status, employment, job stress and income. Then they were followed for a decade. After researchers took into account factors including cholesterol levels, smoking and even degree of household responsibilities, they made some surprising findings.

If a woman worked in any kind of demanding job, but also had a great deal of decision making authority, that woman had almost three times the risk of developing heart disease. But the same situation in men did not correlate with such an increase. The riskiest job for a man: being a so-called "househusband."

Men who consider themselves househusbands most of their adult lives had an 82 percent higher death rate over the ten year study period compared to men who worked outside the home. But no such increase was seen in housewives.

Researchers say they’re not sure about the reason behind the gender differences, but suggest people who perform jobs that don’t conform to social norms may suffer additional stress that leads to heart disease. That’s this week’s Health Update. I’m Diane Toomey.




American Heart Association press release">


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