It's common knowledge that work-related stress is related to a number of physical conditions, such as chronic migraines and heart problems. Now, research has presented a new addition to the list of victims of our fast-paced lifestyles--our DNA.

That's right--stress can cause genetic damage, which manifests in faster aging. But that's just the tip of the iceberg, as reports. The study, which was conducted at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, focused on DNA parts called telomeres and their relation to stress. Telomeres are found at the end of your chromosomes and act as protective caps that ensure that genetic instructions are relayed correctly. When telomeres become dangerously short, the entire cell either dies or goes on delivering genetic abnormalities.

Telomeres generally shorten as a person naturally ages, but there are other factors that can speed up the process, one of which is stress. Studying the telomeres of cells called leukocytes, the researchers found out that those who routinely face work-related tension have shorter telomeres than those who don't, making them more prone to aging faster. Worse, shorter telomeres can lead to various health issues such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovacular problems, cancer, and even Parkinson's Disease.

Is your job constantly stressing you out? Don't underestimate the importance of taking proper R and R! Always make sure you have an ample amount of time to rest within the day--or better yet, go ahead and file that vacation leave. A good old road trip to the beach may just save you from serious health problems.

[Check out our De-stressing subchannel for tips on stress management.]

(Photo by anna gutermuth via Flickr Creative Commons)

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