(HealthDay News) – From the late 1990s through 2005, mortality rates for Japanese men who worked as professionals or managers began to increase, coinciding with the country’s period of economic stagnation, according to research published online March 6 in BMJ.

Koji Wada, MD, of the Kitasato University School of Medicine in Kanagawa, Japan, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study using death certificates and census data to evaluate trends in occupation-specific and cause-specific mortality rates in Japanese men aged 30–59 years from 1980–2005.

The researchers found that, while all-cause mortality and mortality due to cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and unintentional injuries declined for production/labor, clerical, and sales workers, the mortality rate for management and professional workers began to increase from the late 1990s onward. Additionally, suicide rates in Japanese men began to increase in the late 1990s, with professional and management workers experiencing the largest increase.

“Occupational patterns in cause-specific mortality changed dramatically in Japan during the period of its economic stagnation and resulted in the reversal of occupational patterns in mortality that have been well established in western countries,” the authors write. “A significant negative effect on the health of management and professional workers rather than clerks and blue collar workers could be because of increased job demands and more stressful work environments and could have eliminated or even reversed the health inequality across occupations that had existed previously.”

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