10 Tough Jobs That Can Destroy Your Body Over Time

Work, Work, work.

As much as people generally hate the sound of it, the bills have to get paid. Somehow. Preferably legally.

So we take a job, any job sometimes.

Thanks to industrialization, we don't have to do some Victorian-era jobs that make one queasy just thinking about them. Take the role of a rat catcher; note that the rats common in this period were larger than typical black rats. The poor rat catchers were only paid for each rat they slayed.

One would think the job of a hat maker is all style and panache. But hat makers in the 17th century often ended their days in lunatic asylums. The mercury used to remove the felt from the skin of the animal, had a progressively debilitating effect on the workers. Exposure to the gas triggered tremors, vision and hearing problems, their teeth fell out; and it only got worse. Over time, the victims started to hallucinate, drool and descend into truly eccentric behavior like impromptu fistfights and random acts of violence.

If you thought old-time jobs were dangerous and crappy, there are modern day jobs that are just as bad. The next time you want to complain about your job, spare a thought for the high velocity cable inspector. Their cable inspection duties require them to be flown to pylons and dropped on the live line. They proceed to crawl the length of the line looking for defects. This is done while wearing a chain mail suit that allows the 765kv direct current to 'flow ' around them, instead of through them. The helicopter is hovering a mere one foot away, and they are about 100 feet off the ground.

Or gymnasts who spend their days twisting, turning and hurtling through the air. Over time, they accumulate sprains, bruises and overuse injuries from long hours of practice and wear and tear on the joints. Like all athletes, the bumps accumulate manifesting themselves decades later.

However, it's not only athletes who suffer constant injury at work. The following are a list of jobs that will strain and constantly chip away at your health.


10 Bankers

Movies like The Wolf of Wall Street portray bankers, stockbrokers and other financial service workers as quite a hedonistic bunch. They seem to live by the mantra, work hard, play hard; and work hard, they do.

Being willing to work an 80-hour work week with laptops rarely shutting down before midnight is accepted as the only way to get a foothold in the financial industry. This lifestyle stays with bankers throughout their careers. Even when they retire, it becomes hard to 'switch off'.

The long term effects of this lifestyle includes constant headaches (from staring at screens all day) , constant sharp pain in the, neck, wrists, hips. Another common effect is the development of erectile dysfunction.

9 Farmers


Who would have thought agriculture would be considered dangerous? One would assume their active lifestyle would keep farmers healthy. Being out in the sun and working up a sweat in fresh air is recommended for a healthy lifestyle, right? One report even shows that less farmers die from heart disease and cancers of the colon and lung, than in other professions.

But farming is actually pretty dangerous, as farmers are regularly exposed to deadly chemicals. Inhaling fertilizers, pesticides, engine exhaust, fuel, plant viruses even dust on a daily basis, leads to increased occurrence of certain diseases. According to the National Cancer Institute, more farmers get leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, cancer of the stomach, brain and lips, than the national average.

8 Construction Workers

The hard hats that dot construction sites provide protection from falling debris around construction sites. However more construction workers are killed by the long term effects of asbestos inhalation than by falling bricks. The American Lung Association estimates over one million construction workers are exposed to asbestos annually.

Asbestos is known as the silent killer, because its effects take a long time to manifest. Inhalation of fine asbestos dust causes the fibers to become trapped in the lungs. Over the next 20 to 40 years, these fibers cause inflammation and scarring of the lungs, making it hard to breathe. A rare cancer, mesothelioma, is a direct cause of asbestos inhalation.

A lung cancer screen must be part of your annual physical exam, if you have ever worked in construction.

7 Firefighters


Dedicated to fighting blazing fires, despite thick smoke and falling debris, firefighters go all the way to save lives and property. To do their jobs efficiently, they have to be in peak physical condition, but extinguishing fires has serious long term effects.

The constant inhalation of smoke and toxic gases puts them at a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular related conditions. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that heat stress is a major issue as they cannot shed the heat generated while putting out a fire. Psychological stress also occurs, increasing the likelihood of a heart attack by up to seven times the national average.

Firefighters are also at higher risk for certain types of cancer including mesothelioma, bladder cancer, lung and prostate cancer, than the general population.

6 Pilots

The jet-set life is appealing to many; hopping around the globe, getting a fat paycheck, spending downtime in some of the most beautiful locations. But for pilots, this may become an occupational hazard.

Mile for mile, air travel is statistically safer than any other form of transport, yet pilots are exposed to more danger. The wind-shield of the cockpit is generally made of composite glass, which does little to block UV-A radiation. Recent research by the American Medical Association, found that pilots who fly at 30,000 feet for an hour are exposed to the same amount of radiation as 20 minutes on a tanning bed.

UV-A radiation causes DNA damage to cells leading to melanoma. In addition, pilots also have an increased exposure to X-rays, gamma rays and subatomic particles , from space.

5 Boxing


Very few sports blend the intense levels of discipline, artistry and violence that is associated with boxing. To 'make weight', boxers have to shed all their surplus fat and water weight when preparing for a fight. However since the body is 70% water; dehydration takes away from peak performance, reducing skill, speed and accuracy.

Constant blows to the head have been linked to a condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), also known as punch drunk syndrome or boxer's dementia. Its effects include progressive memory problems and a profound personality change.

Researcher found that the blows to the head also cause a rapid acceleration and deceleration of the cerebral cortex. This rapid movement leads to a blood vessel snapping causing massive internal bleeding, the major cause of boxers falling into comas while fighting.

4 Massage Therapist

Who would have thought? A massage therapist does their best to help clients relieve knotted muscles that cause pain and stress. But the therapist almost always ends up in pain, up to 77% of massage therapists experience injury during their careers.

Hours spent bending over patients put therapists at risk of backaches, which can lead to a dependency on painkillers. Poor posture can also affect bodily systems, such as digestion and breathing. Pressing down on knotted muscles can cause irreversible carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries. These can develop into a strain that travels all the way up the arm, leading to permanent nerve damage and muscle wasting.

Hand, wrist and other musculoskeletal injuries are a major hazard for those in the profession.


3 Catcher (Baseball or Softball)


You may not know it, but the catcher has one of the hardest jobs in these games.

They constantly have to crouch, stand up, crouch again, often up to 250 times in a game. This puts a lot of strain on the back and knee joints. The crouching movement is known to cause break down and degeneration of the knee cartilage.

Repeatedly catching high-speed pitches, even with protective gloves causes circulatory abnormalities in the catching hand. Split fingers and unexplained swelling of hands are part of a catchers pension. Most catchers complain of numb extremities after years of stopping a 90mph ball.

Regardless of the amount of gear worn, a ball can bounce and hit an unprotected part of the body. The cumulative stress on the knees, back, legs, and neck add up. Plus there is the occasional concussion from a smack to the head, if the batter swings wide.

2 Night Security Guards

Any kind of shift work messes with the natural circadian rhythm of the body. Shift jobs have been linked to higher incidences of type 2 diabetes, heart attack and cancer. Scientists at the Sleep Research Center in Surrey, England discovered that working on the night shift disrupts the body down to the molecular level.

Altering the natural circadian rhythm leads to a profound change in everything from hormonal balance, core temperature, fat retention, brain function etc. They found that certain genes that are supposed to 'fire' at certain times of the day, are thrown out of sync if shift work is undertaken.

1 Computer Programmers


Programmers, graphic designers, writers are known to pull all-nighters to complete jobs. Many freelancers work through the night and fall asleep in the morning. Studies show that sleeping later in the day can decrease the amount of leptin produced by our tired bodies. Leptin is the hormone that helps to control our appetites; lower leptin levels means we are constantly hungry. Satisfying this craving leads to avoidable weight gain. Lower leptin is also linked to increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

Staring at the screen for hours on end, causes severe eye strain over time. This is tied to an increase in the number of headaches and migraines that you get. Keyboards are also a haven for bacteria if neglected. Microbiologists have found that the average keyboard can harbor up to five times more bacteria than a toilet.

We've all heard it, sitting is the new smoking. Sedentary jobs are associated with fewer calories burnt, increased chance of heart disease, tendency to eat more unhealthy meals. But did you know that simply being in an office can also kill you.

Experts at the EPA call it the "Sick Building Syndrome." They say the air inside a building can be up to 100 times dirtier than the air outside! Pollutants in the air conditioning, recirculated air, mold and dust can trigger severe breathing complications.

So, get up. Go out. Work outside if you can. Did we miss any jobs?


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