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Nurses at greater breast cancer risk than other night shift workers

Nurses have the highest risk of developing breast cancer as well as gastrointestinal and lung cancer among night shift workers, researchers say

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Nurses have the highest risk of developing breast cancer among night shift workers, researchers say.

The study shows that among female nurses, those who worked night shifts had a 58% increased risk of breast cancer, 35% of gastrointestinal and 28% of lung cancer compared with those that did not work night shifts.

Researchers from Sichuan University in China performed a meta-analysis using data from 61 articles covering 114,628 cancer cases and 3,909,152 participants from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

The studies were analysed for an association between long-term night shift work and risk of 11 types of cancer. A further analysis looked specifically at long-term night shift work and the risk of six types of cancer among female nurses.

Protection programmes

Overall, long-term night shift work among women increased the risk of cancer by 19%.

The researchers also discovered that the increased risk of breast cancer was only found among female night shift workers in North America and Europe.

Researcher Xuelei Ma, an oncologist at State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center in Sichuan University’s West China Medical Center, said: ‘The results of this research suggest the need for health protection programmes for long-term female night shift workers.’

She said it was possible that women in North America and Europe had higher levels of sex hormones.

Ma X et al (2018) Night Shift Work Increases the Risks of Multiple Primary Cancers in Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of 61 Articles. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0221


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