There's no shortage of scientific evidence showing that working the night shift can take a toll on your health, including increasing the risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity and ulcers.
But what about those who only work night shifts occasionally, perhaps once every few days or weeks? Do they still have an increased risk of such health problems? New findings recently published in PLoS Medicine suggest the answer is yes. Time reports:
In a study involving nearly 177,000 middle-aged women enrolled in two Nurses' Health Studies, women who worked rotating night shifts for 1 to 2 years increased their risk of developing [Type 2] diabetes by 5% over a 20-year follow-up period, compared with women who didn't get assigned these shifts. Women who kept up night work for 10 to 19 years increased their risk by 40%. Working on and off at night for more than 20 years boosted the risk of diabetes by 60%.
Researchers say the increased diabetes risk among those working the night shift is likely attributed to disruptions in the sleep cycle, which can result in hormonal changes. Overall, they were surprised to discover that night shift work had a cumulative effect on diabetes risk and urged individuals working irregular schedules to take measures to reduce their risk such as eating healthy, exercising and talking to their health-care provider about being screened for diabetes.
Previously: Discussing sleep and work performance among health-care professionals, Study: Staying up late tied to poor eating habits, weight gain and Sleep apnea linked to increased risk of stroke
Photo by Samuele Ghilardi