The report concluded that police officers were at risk for a number of health issues, including:
- Heart disease
- Some types of cancer
- Difficulty sleeping
Notably, the study focused on the high amount of stress police officers face in the course of performing their job responsibilities. According to the report, the stress from the job led to a higher risk for metabolic syndrome, which refers to a collection of risk factors that, when seen together, increase the likelihood of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and strokes. Of the 464 police officers examined for the study, 25 percent of them suffered from metabolic syndrome. This fact is particularly noteworthy when compared to the United States’ population as a whole, where only 19 percent suffer from the syndrome.
The study also found that police officers who worked a night shift were at a higher risk for metabolic syndrome. The percentage of police officers who work night shifts (47) is significantly higher than that of the general population, where only 9 percent of workers have nighttime hours.
Stress can also affect an officer’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. Police officers with extremely high levels of stress reported difficult sleeping – women were “four times more likely to have trouble sleeping” and men were “six times more likely” as compared to the U.S. as a whole.
According to the report, police officers with lengthy careers are also at an increased risk for brain cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
At first blush, police officers diagnosed with these illnesses may not consider the possibility that they were caused by factors on the job, such as stress. The results of this new study suggest law enforcement officers should consult with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to ensure their rights are protected after being diagnosed with an illness.
Source: Philly.com, “Police Work Takes Heavy Health Toll: Study,” July 13, 2012.