Shift Work Increases Breast Cancer Risk

1 in 5 Americans work the night shift. Half of shift workers have a difficult time with sleep.

Working the night shift puts people at risk for many problems including the following.

  • stomach and intestinal problems
  • heart problems
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • depression

In fact, Denmark has classified breast cancer as a shift work injury after a study showed that nurses working the night shift developed more breast cancer. They are compensating their nurses for this risk.

No one knows for sure why this happens. The theory is that the accurate timing of melatonin released by the brain in response to light is protective against breast cancer. Therefore, having a regular schedule and regular exposure to appropriate light would help shift workers to train their brains.

Sleep Tip: Shift workers should avoid bright light in the morning by wearing sunglasses. They should try to wake up before the sun sets at night to get their "morning sun."

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