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Health Perils of Night-Shift Work

Posted on Oct. 31, 2016, 6 a.m. in Women's Health Cancer Cardio-Vascular Sleep

Rotating night shift work raises the odds of deaths due to all causes, as well as cardiovascular disease and lung cancer

It is well established that sleep and a regular circadian system are integral to human health.  A number of published studies suggest that night shift work enhances the development of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and contributes to higher mortality. Eva S. Schernhammer, from Harvard Medical School (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues analyzed data collected on 74,862 registered U.S. nurses enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study.  Deaths from all causes was observed to be 11% higher for women with 6-14 years, as well as over 15 years, of rotating night shift work. Cardiovascular disease mortality was 19% and 23% higher for those groups, respectively. A 25% elevated risk of lung cancer was observed in those who worked shift work for 15 or more years.  The study authors warn that: “These results add to prior evidence of a potentially detrimental effect of rotating night shift work on health and longevity.”

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Fangyi Gu, Jiali Han, Francine Laden, An Pan, Neil E. Caporaso, Meir J. Stampfer, Ichiro Kawachi, Kathryn M. Rexrode, et al.  “Total and Cause-Specific Mortality of U.S. Nurses Working Rotating Night Shifts.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, January 6, 2015.

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