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Night shifts may increase cancer risk

A positive association between night shifts and risk of cancer

  • Long-term night shift work among women increased the risk of cancer by 19%.
  • A meta-analysis using using international data from 61 articles comprising 114,628 cancer cases and 3,909,152 participants.
  • These studies found an association between long-term night shift work and risk of 11 types of cancer.

Women who work overnight have a comparatively high risk of developing cancer than women who do not, say researchers. An analysis of international data has confirmed an association between night-shifts and cancer.

“Our study indicates that night shift work serves as a risk factor for common cancers in women,” said Xuelei Ma, co-author of the study from West China Medical Center of Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.

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Findings

These studies found an association between long-term night shift work and risk of 11 types of cancer. Wikimedia commons
These studies found an association between long-term night shift work and risk of 11 types of cancer. Wikimedia commons

  • Long-term night shift work among women increased the risk of cancer by 19 percent.
  • Nurses (working in night shifts) had the highest risk of breast cancer, of all the occupations analysed.
  • The population of women working on night shifts have an increase risk of skin (41%), breast (32%) and gastrointestinal cancer (18%).
  • Among female nurses alone, those who worked the night shift had an increased risk of breast (58%), gastrointestinal (35%) and lung cancer (28%).

Methodology

  • A meta-analysis using data from 61 articles comprising 114,628 cancer cases and 3,909,152 participants from North Amercia, Europe, Australia and Asia.
  • The articles consisted of 26 cohort studies, 24 case-control studies and 11 nested case-control studies.
  • These studies found an association between long-term night shift work and risk of 11 types of cancer.

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“Nurses that worked the night shift were of a medical background and may have been more likely to undergo screening examinations,” the researcher suggested.

The results might help establish and implement effective measures to protect female night shifters. Pixabay
The results might help establish and implement effective measures to protect female night shifters. Pixabay

“Long-term night shift workers should have regular physical examinations and cancer screenings,” Ma noted.

The study was published in journal Cancer Epidemiology. (IANS)

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