Stress 'puts office staff in danger of early dementia'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am


Almost 40 per cent of office staff are enduring 'unbearable pressure' at work and could be risking an early onset of dementia and Parkinson's disease, it was claimed yesterday.

More than half the 531 people surveyed work overtime and over 70 per cent have noticed a decline in their performance at work, a study by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme revealed.

Such a level of stress can produce free radicals that speed up brain degeneration, nutritionist Leslie Chan Kwok-pan said of the survey, commissioned by the Brand's Health Supplements company.

Hongkongers on average work overtime on 3.6 days of the week, it found. In one extreme case, a media industry employee worked 90 days non-stop.

Thirty-eight per cent of those interviewed said they found the pressure at work intolerable.

About 74 per cent said they were becoming forgetful and unable to concentrate at work.

More than 60 per cent of that group said this happened up to three times a week. Nutritionist Chan said this could be a symptom of an excessive level of free radicals in the brain, which can hinder brain functions and erode cognitive performance.

Overly intensive work can lead to an accumulation of free radicals - created as a by-product when body cells generate energy - which can speed up degeneration in the brain, he said.

'Some may even develop dementia or Parkinson's disease earlier,' he warned.

'They usually eat at restaurants, and do not have enough fruit and vegetables. That can exacerbate the situation.'

He suggested office workers take supplements containing antioxidants, which target free radicals.