Retirement could be hazardous for the health

February 18, 2016

The ABS says older workers have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and arthritis than their peers who are retired.

A study by the ABS based on 2004-05 health data and labour force statistics on older workers aged 45 to 74, also took into account people not in the workforce and those too ill to work.

It seems that cardiovascular disease and arthritis each affected around a quarter of all mature age workers compared with half of non-workers but both workers and non-workers, were overweight or obese in similar proportions.

However 7% of mature age people reported that they had a condition such as arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or mental problem occur because of their work and work related conditions included a high proportion of disc disorders, back problems and hearing loss.

The study also revealed that mature age workers in capital cities were less likely to have a chronic condition than those outside of the capitals and those living in disadvantaged areas had higher rates of nearly all chronic diseases compared with the most affluent areas.

Tradespeople aged 45-74 years were more likely to have a chronic health condition than professionals and even with a major health condition, 56% of mature age workers still assessed their health as very good or excellent, compared with 31% of those who were not working.

It found that eight in 10 of mature-aged workers had a chronic health condition, compared with nine in 10 of those not in the workforce.

In an financial climate where many Australians are delaying retirement because of the labour market and to fund their longer lifespans, 50% of those who are 45 years or over are still in the workforce, compared with 40% two decades ago.

Many now aim to retire at 63 years rather than 58 which was common in the last decade.

"We suspect that the variant either doesn't make enough of the protein, or it makes a less effective protein," he said. "Our data adds TNFAIP3 to a growing list of lupus-associated genes that may help us diagnose and treat our patients."

Lupus is a multi-genic disease, meaning there's no one gene that causes lupus. But the TNFAIP3 variant may work in concert with other mutant genes to cause lupus in some patients.

"Every single lupus-associated gene we discover is just as important as the others," Moser said. "Each gene can set off new opportunities and new projects for us. You never know which gene is going to give you the best chance to develop new therapeutics or better diagnostics."

Gaffney said they will continue to study the TNFAIP3 variant for links to any other gene variations.

"We also want to know exactly what effect the gene variation has on A20 protein production and function," he said.