A lot of people work in night shifts that not only disrupt their body clock and sleep cycle but also negatively affect their overall health. They encounter several health issues and now researchers have added another chronic illness to the list. It is cancer. Yes, a study conducted by the Washington State University has found that night shift workers are at a greater risk of developing cancer in later years. They have compared the risk with daytime workers. If you work on the night shift, you must read on to find the possible risks.
Are night shifts bad for health?
As per the research published in the Journal of Pineal Research, night shifts are linked with circadian rhythm disruption. This is the natural sleep-wake cycle that the body follows. The body is accustomed to waking up in the day and sleeping in the night(as melatonin hormones are released during the night time). Night shift workers have an exact opposite routine that badly disrupts their body clock. This makes them vulnerable to DNA damage and mistiming of repair mechanisms to fix the damage.
Side Effects of Work In Night Shift
To analyse the risks of night work, researchers studied the cell mechanism of healthy volunteers of both day workers and night workers. The lead author of the study Shobhan Gaddameedhi says, “There has been mounting evidence that cancer is more prevalent in night shift workers, which led the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify night shift work as a probable carcinogenic. However, it has been unclear why night shift work elevates cancer risk, which our study sought to address.”
The team conducted a simulated shift work experiment to study the rhythmicity of clock genes. After extensive research, it was found that cancer-related genes had different rhythms in people working in night shifts as compared to those working day shifts. In short, DNA damage was witnessed in this process.
Night shift and cancer risk
It was found that white blood cells were more prone to damage by radiation in night shift workers. This is a major risk factor in DNA damage and cancer. Second author Jason McDermott who is a computational scientist comment, “Taken together, these findings suggest that night shift schedules throw off the timing of expression of cancer-related genes in a way that reduces the effectiveness of the body’s DNA repair processes when they are most needed.”
“Nightshift workers face considerable health disparities, ranging from increased risks of metabolic and cardiovascular disease to mental health disorders and cancer,” said co-senior author Hans Van Dongen.
Night shift workers are at higher risks of many health issues. They must consider every symptom and get themselves tested. Regular health check-ups are a must for them in order to forestall the consequences.
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