Keep on working - you'll live longer but it may not be so much fun!

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If you're thinking of taking early retirement, with the plan of getting into the garden, sorting out your golf or tennis or just contemplating your navel, think again!

According to new research rather than guaranteeing a longer more relaxed life, quitting the rat race early may in fact cut your life short.

It is suggested in a US study that early retirement at 55 may actually make you more likely to die earlier than if you had carried on working.

The study which is published in the British Medical Journal, involved more than 3,500 employees working for Shell Oil in Texas.

The workers involved retired at either 55, 60 or 65 and were monitored for up to 26 years to see what effect their age at retirement had on their lifespan.

Sex and socio-economic status were some of the factors taken into account by the team from Shell Health Services.

They apparently found that workers who retired at the age of 55 had a significantly higher mortality compared with staff who left work at 65.

In fact, the death rate was almost twice as high in the first 10 years after retirement at 55, compared to those who continued to work.

The researchers found that those who retired at 60 and those who retired at 65 had a similar survival rate.

However the team do say that ill health leading to early retirement may have played a part in their findings.

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