Women Working in Night Shifts More Prone To Breast Cancer
There are already more than enough number of eating habits, life style and work related causes associated with breast cancer. But now there is another one.
A recent study suggests that working in night shifts can be harmful for women and might contribute to increasing the risk of breast cancer by 40%.
According to researchers, women who work more than two night shifts a week have doubled risk of getting the disease when compared to those who work during the day.
The reason behind the link between staying up at night and breast cancer is explained by the researchers as an imbalance in a hormone that suppresses tumors in the body due to constant exposure to light during the night.
The hormone that suppresses tumors- Melatonin, dictates the natural cycles and body clock which determines the sleep patterns. Exposure to light at night reduces or slows down the production of this harmone which is produced by the pineal gland in the brain during night hours.
It is the low levels of melatonin that may promote tumor growth.
There has been increasing evidence supporting the fact that night shifts might boost the risk of women developing breast cancer due to the disruption of the body clock and hormone production.
The recent research, backed by the Danish Cancer Society, studied more than 18,500 women who working for the Danish army between 1964 and 1999. Researchers contacted women who had breast cancer and compared them with those who did not develop the disease.
The women were made to answer questionnaires, which took details of their work shifts and sun bathing habits among other details.
Apparently, after the study, the researchers were able to link night shifts with 40 percent increased risk of breast cancer. They found that women working in night shifts more than thrice a week for a span of 6 years had a doubled chance of contracting the disease.
According to researcher Johnni Hansen, the findings suggest that it took more than two night shifts a week to disrupt the body clock. Frequent night shifts for several years do the damage, disrupting circadian rhythms - the body clock - and sleep patterns, the report says.
Dr Rachel Greig, of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said that apart from the night shifts, it could also be the other life style habits associated with it that causes the disease.
"It may be that night shifts themselves are not the only cause, as shift work can increase the likelihood of other lifestyle risk factors, such as lack of exercise. All women should cut back on alcohol, get regular physical activity and maintain a healthy diet to reduce their risk of breast cancer," she said according to the report.