December 10, 2011

Working Nights is Linked to Type 2 Diabetes

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Women who work one night on, one night off, a day shift and then a night shift “¦ also known as rotating night shift work could be putting themselves at risk for type 2 diabetes. And furthermore, the longer you work, the more likely you are to gain weight. This new study sheds light on potential public health risk since a large portion of the working population is involved in some kind of permanent night and rotating night shift work.

The authors used data from the Nurses' Health Study I (NHS I - established in 1976, and which included 121704 women) and the Nurses' Health Study II (NHS II - established in 1989, and which included 116677 women), and found that in NHS I, 6,165 women developed type 2 diabetes and in NHS II 3,961 women developed type 2 diabetes. Using statistical models, the authors found that the duration of rotating night shift work was strongly associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in both cohorts and that the risks of women developing type 2 diabetes, increased with the numbers of years working rotating shifts. However, these associations were slightly weaker after the authors took other factors into consideration.

Although these findings need to be confirmed in men and other ethnic groups, these findings show that additional preventative strategies in rotating night shift workers should therefore be considered.

"Recognizing that rotating night shift workers are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes should prompt additional research into preventive strategies in this group," the authors were quoted as saying.

"Some modifications to shift work itself might also be feasible. Rotating shift work comprises a range of alternative schedule patterns, such as backward- and forward-rotating shift systems, and the proportion of night and early morning shifts varies. Future studies should address these variations and identify patterns that minimize [type 2 diabetes] risk, ideally through large-scale randomized trials that would provide insights into causality," the authors concluded.

SOURCE: PLoS Medicine, published online December 2011.