A Canadian-control case study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology last November 1, 2012 indicated fascinating results regarding the association of a higher risk of cancer between men and working the night shift. Men working the night shift had double the risk for certain types of cancers, the study found out.
According to Marie-Élise Parent, PhD, from the epidemiology and biostatistics unit at the University of Quebec in Laval, Canada, and also the leader of the research, “The results suggest that night work may increase cancer risk at several sites among men,”. The researchers also added, “The observation here of elevated risks for several other types of cancer is novel,”. Further, they stated, “If our findings are valid, it would signal an important systemic cancer hazard,”
The study compared 3,137 men with cancer and 512 matched control subjects. The participants were asked to fill-out questionnaires regarding lifestyles and occupations between the years 1979 to 1985. The results yielded the following results: Compared with men who never worked at night, men who worked night shifts had an increased risk for the following cancers:
Richard Stevens, PhD, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, and a reviewer of the paper said that the research is something new and that it is interesting. The interest increases because the risks were clearly in men, and a lot of cancers were involved. Stevens added that the report is surprising but is “plausible”.
Dr. Stevens states that the study is of high quality and that it clearly states that there is an associated risk with working night shifts and cancer development. He proposed the “Light-At-Night Hypothesis” where circadian disturbance was linked to hormone disruption and breast cancer. Since his proposal, circadian disruption has been linked to many other adverse effects. Research showed and concluded that melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, has a direct effect on tumor growth. Some of the latest research Dr Stevens has been involved with has shown that circadian disruption has an epigenetic impact.
More research is being done regarding this subject, but risks cannot be ignored. A healthy lifestyle, a well-balanced diet, and a pollution-free environment all point towards cancer prevention.
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