Assistant Editor, Safety & Health Practitioner

May 30, 2019

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Night work

Breast cancer: No links to working nightshift, according to new research

Previous research, made by the World Health Organization, raised concerns about nightshift workers developing breast cancer. An updated report finds no link between being prone to cancer from working the nightshift.

In the past, it was suggested that too much exposure to electric light can interfere with the body’s internal clock, which can result to decreasing melatonin levels. That leads to the body producing 80% less tissue-repairing chemicals which naturally maintains the damage caused to the body throughout the day, exposing higher risk of mutation resulting to cancer.

But new information gathered does not support the previous suggestions, as recent data funded by charity, Breast Cancer Now and created by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, confirmed that there is no direct correlation between nightshift workers developing cancer or breast cancer.

This new information was found when only 2,059 women developed breast cancer, out of the 102,869 women that took part in the UK, over 10 years.


Early intervention at work can improve cancer survival


Dr Michael Jones, who led the research at ICR, emphasised that: “In our new study we found no overall link between women having done night shift work in the last ten years and their risk of breast cancer, regardless of the different types of work and age at which they started such work”.

However, a long periods of nightshift work could have other health risks to workers, such as heart disease, migraines, gastrointestinal problems, obesity and many more. But the reassurance of it not leading to a cancerous disease will benefit many nightshift workers.

Sleep and Fatigue: Director’s Briefing

Fatigue is common amongst the population, but particularly among those working abnormal hours, and can arise from excessive working time or poorly designed shift patterns. It is also related to workload, in that workers are more easily fatigued if their work is machine-paced, complex or monotonous.

This free director’s briefing contains:

  • Key points;
  • Recommendations for employers;
  • Case law;
  • Legal duties.
Barbour EHS

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