The news for the long-term unemployed just keeps getting worse. Turns out, it can cause premature aging.
A study published in PLOS One found that men unemployed for longer than 500 days was associated with having shorter telomeres, which is associated with quicker aging. Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the end of chromosomes protecting genetic data; when they get too short, cells can’t divide properly, which encourages cancer, aging, and a higher risk of death. The study, which followed 5,620 men, found that unemployment of 500 days and over led to shorter telomeres. The men in the study who were unemployed for less than 500 days did much better, so it really seems to be at around a year and a half of unemployment that negative health effects really kick in.
Interestingly, the same wasn’t true for women; only men aged prematurely when unemployed.