Long-term Night Shift Work Reported to Increase Risk of Cancer among Women

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Scientists have discovered a correlation between long-term night shift work and risk of 11 types of cancer, according to a new study published in Science Daily on January 8, 2018.

Ma and colleagues studied data from 61 articles comprising 114,628 cancer cases and 3,909,152 participants from North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. These studies were analyzed for specifically acquiring an association between long-term night shift work and risk of six types of cancer among female nurses.

The study found that, long-term night shift work among women increased their susceptibility to cancer by 19 percent. When researchers analyzed for specific cancers, they found that this population had an increased risk of cancers, including 41 percent risk of skin cancer, 32 percent of breast cancer, and 18 percent risk of gastrointestinal cancer as compared to women who did not perform long-term night shift work.

Researchers then studied the risk of these women based on the region they live in, and found that an increased risk of breast cancer was only found among female night shift workers in North America and Europe.

“We were surprised to see the association between night shift work and breast cancer risk only among women in North America and Europe,” said Ma. “It is possible that women in these locations have higher sex hormone levels, which have been positively associated with hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer.”

Amongst all the occupations analyzed, nurses working at night shifts showed the highest risk of developing breast cancer.

“Nurses that worked the night shift were of a medical background and may have been more likely to undergo screening examinations,” noted Ma. “Another possible explanation for the increased cancer risk in this population may relate to the job requirements of night shift nursing, such as more intensive shifts.”

Further research found that the risk of breast cancer increased by 3.3 percent for every five years of night shift work.

“Our study indicates that night shift work serves as a risk factor for common cancers in women,” said Ma. “These results might help establish and implement effective measures to protect female night shifters. Long-term night shift workers should have regular physical examinations and cancer screenings.

The increasing prevalence of breast cancer, in turn is expected to increase the demand for breast biopsy for diagnostic purposes, as per breast biopsy devices market report published by Coherent Market Insights.


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