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Hard Physical Labor May Boost Heart Disease Risk

Researcher says higher mental stress, lower income could be factors

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Phillips, who also is an assistant professor in the department of medicine at NYU Langone, said the finding was a bit surprising. "This is a new finding that was not previously seen," he said. "Further studies to support this finding will be needed. As with many areas of medicine, a one-size-fits-all approach to leisure exercise might not work."

Study author Dr. Els Clays, of the department of public health at the University of Ghent, in Belgium, weighed in on the study in a society news release.

"From a public health perspective, it is very important to know whether people with physically demanding jobs should be advised to engage in leisure-time activity," Clays said.

"The results of this study suggest that additional physical activity during leisure time in those who are already physically exhausted from their daily occupation does not induce a 'training' effect but rather an overloading effect on the cardiovascular system," Clays said.

On the other hand, the study did find that men with less physically demanding jobs were 60 percent less likely to develop heart disease if they exercised during their leisure time.

"Further studies will be needed to find out the cause of increased heart disease in those people who have high physical job demands," Phillips said.

Both studies could point only to an association between hard physical labor and increased heart risk, not a cause-and-effect. Studies presented at a medical meetings typically are viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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