night shift

  1. Working the night shift can increase breast cancer risk

    Jobs that can give you cancer

    In today's 24-hour society, someone always has to work the night shift. Try to make sure that someone isn't you -- especially if you're a woman.

    We've known for years now that shift work can boost the risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, and more for men and women alike. Now, women can add one more risk to that long (and growing) list: breast cancer.

    Women who work at least two nights a week have a 40 percent higher risk of the disease than those who work days, according to new research out of Denmark... and believe it or not, those are actually the lowest numbers in the study.

    The risk doubles in women who work three or more nights for at least six years, and shoots up by 400 percent in women with night jobs who describe themselves as "morning people," according to the study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

    Part of the problem is that shift work itself comes with a bunch of other unhealthy habits. Just try finding a place to get a healthy meal at 2 a.m., and forget finding energy for the gym after spending all night on the job.

    But there's more to it than that.

    Shift work throws your circadian rhythm out of whack, and that alone is a risk factor for disease. Your body also relies on those normal signals of "light" and "dark" to activate "wake" and "rest" functions -- such as the production of the hormone melatonin, which our bodies make at night.

    You may know melatonin as the sleep hormone, but it does so much more than that -- and there's plenty of evidence that it can help protect against cancer.

    And that's a big part of the reason shift work has been linked to cancer before, and not just breast cancer. It's such a widely recognized risk factor for so many cancers that the World Health Organization has listed it as a "probable carcinogen."

    In addition, people who work nights face a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, heart problems, and more.

    Some people work toward a promotion or a pay raise. If you're on the night shift, make it your goal to work toward something that's better than either: Work your way onto the day shift instead.

    Speaking of cancer, I've got some news for those of you who are fighting the disease and need a little help overcoming fatigue.

    Keep reading!

  2. Don't quit your day job -- it might kill you

    There are some clear benefits to working the night shift: higher pay and… well.. OK, there's one clear benefit to working the night shift.

    And in exchange for more money, you're literally putting your life on the line if you take that night job: Shift work has been linked to obesity, heart disease and more.

    Now, the latest research adds one more big-time risk to the list: Diabetes.

    And nurses, you might want to pay close attention to this one -- because the latest study was done specifically on your profession, as researchers compared data on nurses who worked night and rotating shifts to nurses who kept to the daytime.

    I know what you're thinking: What nurses work only during the day? But trust me, they're out there -- and try to make yourself one of them, because those who worked even three nights a month had a 58 percent boost in diabetes risk over 20 years.

    Not planning to work 20 years on the night shift? Better keep an eye on the calendar -- it can happen more easily than you might think.

    Besides, even nurses who spent less time on the night shift had a much higher risk of diabetes: A 40 percent boost for those who spent at least a decade on rotating shifts, 20 percent increase after three years, and a five percent increase after a single year.

    The study didn't finger a specific cause, but anyone who's worked the night shift -- and I've been there myself -- knows what happens.

    First, there are the obvious changes in habits. You tend to eat lousy food. You tend not to get out much, especially if your night shifts are more regular, so you're more stationary.

    But there are also more subtle changes taking place on the inside -- hormonal changes as your body tries to flip its internal clock.

    Tries, and fails… because no matter how many years you spend on nights, it's never easy to go to sleep when the sun is up.

    Put it together, and you've got the perfect set of risk factors for diabetes and any number of diseases.

    So that day job you have? Don't quit it… no matter what.

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