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Police Work Takes Heavy Health Toll: Study
Date:7/13/2012

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Police officers are at increased risk for developing a host of mental and physical health problems, including heart disease, sleep troubles, obesity and certain forms of cancer, new research shows.

In addition, suicide rates for officers on the job were more than eight times higher than among those who retired or left the police force, according to the researchers, from the University at Buffalo in New York.

"This is one of the first police population-based studies to test the association between the stress of being a police officer and psychological and health outcomes," the study's principal investigator, John Violanti, said in a university news release.

"Usually, health disparities are defined by socioeconomic and ethnic factors, but here you have a health disparity caused by an occupation, highlighting the need to expand the definition of health disparity to include occupation as well," added Violanti, a former New York State trooper who is now a professor of social and preventive medicine in the university's School of Public Health and Health Professions.

In conducting the study, the researchers followed 464 members of the Buffalo Police Department over the course of five years to examine how their jobs affected their mental and physical health.

Daily job stress and night work, they found, contributed to an increased risk for metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that includes abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

The study revealed that more than 25 percent of the officers examined had metabolic syndrome. In contrast, less than 19 percent of the general U.S. population has the condition. Meanwhile, nearly 47 percent of the officers worked a non-day shift, compared to just 9 percent of other U.S. workers.

"We found that, as a group, officers who work nights have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome tha
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