Night work increases risk of cancer

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Wednesday August 26 2009
Volume 7 • Issue 1 • Summer 2009

An increasing amount of research has been published that suggests a link exists between night work and cancer. In several major studies, researchers have found that workers on the night shift show increased rates of cancer.

The research

Workers with atypical work schedules show a higher risk of developing cancer than people in the general population, according to research published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization, in the December 2007 issue of The Lancet Oncology Medical Journal. A team of 24 scientists found that atypical working hours disturbed the body’s internal biological clock, which could be one cause for the appearance of cancer. They argued that more study was needed on this issue to confirm the cause and effect relationship.

Research in 2001 highlighted some similar findings for women with breast cancer. A study of 7,000 Danish women affected by primary breast cancer produced the following very disturbing results: Women between 30 and 54 years of age who worked nights for at least half a year have a 50 per cent higher risk of developing primary breast cancer than women in the same age group who worked days. Among women who had worked night shifts for six years or more, the risk jumped to 70 per cent. This study was published in the journal Epidemiology (January 2001, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp 74 77)...



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