Working late nights has become a norm nowadays, and its popularity is increasing rapidly. Day in and day out, in order to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as possible, we forget our body has limitations. It needs proper rest to function at its optimal. Proper sleep cycles play an important role in your body’s health. Many of us might be already aware that lack of sleep leads to a number of health issues such as heart diseases, obesity and sleep disorders. Now there’s one more disease added to the list, cancer, especially in women.
According to a research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, which was an analysis of 61 studies that included nearly four million people from North America, Asia and Australia, states that women who work in the night shift are 19% more prone to cancer than women who work in normal shifts. An assistant professor, who has authored the research paper has concluded that the longer women worked in the night shifts the higher the risk of cancer. It is observed that the risk of breast cancer increases by 3.3% for every 5 years of night shift work. Building upon other studies on this topic, researchers from Sichuan University in China have found out that women working in night shifts are exposed to at least 12 different types of cancer.
What types of cancer are most commonly caused by night shifts?
The study revealed that women who work night shifts were more likely to develop different forms of cancer. These include:
- 41% greater risk of skin cancer
- 32% greater risk of breast cancer
- 18% greater risk of gastrointestinal cancer
How late-night shifts lead to cancer?
One of the factors that put night shift workers at higher risk of cancer is the disruption in circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm or “the master clock” is a biological process that oscillated every 24-hours and it is primarily activated by light. So when a person works in the night, there’s a change in the levels of melatonin. Melatonin is an antioxidant that suppresses cancer cells and new blood vessel growth associated with tumors. Its levels usually rise at night, but when a person remains awake under artificial light their levels are suppressed, which might contribute to tumor growth. Disruption of normal sleep cycle can also lead to cancer as it affects genes that are responsible for repairing DNA, which might lead to more abnormally growing cells that have the potential to become cancerous.
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It is recommended that women who have been working night shifts for a long time get regular physical examinations. If you are a woman between the ages of 30 and 50 and have been working night shifts for at least 2 years, get yourself screened for cancer today. Though not everybody that works night shifts will get cancer, early detection can go a long way towards successful treatment and a cancer-free future.