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Night Shifts Cause Cancer?

December 3, 2013

An interesting study examined the incidence of cancer in men who worked at night vs. those who did not. For men who did work nights, the six-year study period found:

  • 74% increase in risk of bladder cancer;
  • 76% increase in risk of lung cancer;
  • 103% increase in risk of colon cancer;
  • 109% increase in risk of rectal cancer;
  • 127% increase in risk of pancreatic cancer;
  • 177% increase in risk of prostate cancer;
  • 131% increase in risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The authors suggest that the increased risk may be “possibly via suppression of melatonin release.” Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that is produced in our bodies at night, usually when we sleep. The lack of this powerful antioxidant could explain the increased cancer risk.

Regardless of the details, this study also speaks to those whose lifestyle causes them stay up late and sleep in during the day. Working or not, the same effect could be cause simply by being awake well into the night.

Read the Abstract

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