Unemployment and ill health: a connection through inflammation?

Hintikka, Jukka; Lehto, Soili M.; Niskanen, Leo; Huotari, Anne; Herzig, Karl-Heinz; Koivumaa-Honkanen, Heli; Honkalampi, Kirsi; Sinikallio, Sanna; Viinamäki, Heimo
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p410
Academic Journal
Background: Unemployment is a source of acute and long-term psychosocial stress. Acute and chronic psychosocial stress can induce pronounced changes in human immune responses. In this study we tested our hypothesis that stress-induced low-grade tissue inflammation is more prevalent among the unemployed. Methods: We determined the inflammatory status of 225 general population subjects below the general retirement age (65 years in Finland). Those who had levels of both interleukin-6 (≥ 0.97 pg/ mL) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (≥ 1.49 mg/L) above the median were assessed to have an elevated inflammatory status (n = 72). Results: An elevated inflammatory status was more common among the unemployed than among other study participants (59% versus 30%, p = 0.011). In the final multivariate model, those who were unemployed had over five-fold greater odds for having an elevated inflammatory status (OR 5.20, 95% CI 1.55-17.43, p = 0.008). Conclusion: This preliminary finding suggests that stress-induced low-grade inflammation might be a link between unemployment and ill health.


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