beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

To find a doctor, call 800-667-5356 or click below:

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

left banner
right banner
Smaller Larger

Night Work and Risk of Breast Cancer

Posted 7/5/2013

Posted in

This topic comes up now and again like the infamous bad penny. Over the years, I have read a number of studies suggesting that a regular and long-standing schedule of night work increases breast cancer risk; then a study will come along that debunks it, and the topic goes underground — until the next time it pops up. Here it is again, this time as a study out of Canada that suggests that there is an apparent connection in breast cancer risk among health care workers who work for many years overnight, but it stops short of suggesting it is cause and effect.

This topic comes up now and again like the infamous bad penny. Over the years, I have read a number of studies suggesting that a regular and long-standing schedule of night work increases breast cancer risk; then a study will come along that debunks it, and the topic goes underground — until the next time it pops up. Here it is again, this time as a study out of Canada that suggests that there is an apparent connection in breast cancer risk among health care workers who work for many years overnight, but it stops short of suggesting it is cause and effect.

The worrisome thing, for me, is that the concern just won't go away. And the equally worrisome concern is that I suspect most women who work overnight shifts don't feel that they have much choice about their employment. Of course, there are people who prefer this schedule for a variety of reasons, probably most often associated with other family obligations. But many nurses or cashiers in 24/7 stores or air traffic controllers or first responders probably would opt for a more typical daytime work commitment. Hearing that working from midnight to 7 a.m., or whatever the specifics are, may also increase breast cancer risk seems to add insult to injury. Here is the start of an article from Health Watch and then a link to read more:

Can Long­Term Night Work Raise Breast Cancer Risk?

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) ­--­ Working the night shift for 30 years or more may double the risk of breast cancer, a new Canadian study suggests.

The study found an apparent connection between night­shift work and breast cancer risk, but it did not prove the existence of a cause­and­effect relationship.

Other research has also found a link between night­shift work and breast cancer, especially for health­care professionals. But the new study revealed an apparent risk among other types of workers, said lead researcher Kristan Aronson, a professor of public health sciences at the Queen's Cancer Research Institute at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

While those women with 30 or more years of night­shift work had a doubling of risk, Aronson's team found no increased risk among those who worked nights for less than 30 years.

The researchers obtained very specific details about the women's work history. "We were very careful in asking about lifetime occupational histories, including specific start and stop times of each shift worked," Aronson explained, "so we carefully assessed each woman's exposure to night work."

Read more »

Share:

Add your comment

 
 
 

Categories

Archive