Night-Shift Ups Cancer Risk

Women who swing regularly from day to night work raise their risk of colon and rectal cancer by 35%, according to Harvard Medical School researchers who followed nearly 80,000 nurses for 10 years. Those who worked at least 3 nights a month on a rotating day shift/night shift schedule for 15 years or more were at risk.

This may be due to disruptions in the production of melatonin, a hormone with a suspected role in the development of cancer. "Our bodies produce melatonin at night when we sleep," explains researcher Eva Schernhammer, MD, DrPH. Switching between night and day work may suppress melatonin production.

Working the night shift all the time may pose less risk. Eventually, your body will produce melatonin while you sleep during the day.

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