Sleepless nights can be a Cancerous Idea.
Sleepless nights can be a Cancerous Idea. | Credit: NDTV

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Sleepless nights can be a Cancerous Idea.

Dec 31, 2018

Generally, those who work in nightshift are associated with a number of health issues, right from sleep disorders to heart diseases to obesity and even cancer. According to a meta-analysis published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention which is the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, it is mentioned that women who are working in night shift have an increased risk of breast, skin and gastrointestinal cancer. Now a researcher from China gave a new report that women who normally worked in night shifts have 19% increased risk of developing cancer as compared to women who do not work at night. Nurses who are working in night shifts have a higher risk of developing cancer.

Types of cancer:

When researchers researched about a lot of types of cancer that women are getting, they found that as compared to women who are not working, the women who are working in night shifts for a longer periods of time had 32% higher risk of breast cancer, 41% higher risk of skin cancer, 18% greater risk of digestive cancers.

The nurses who worked at night showed higher chances developing breast cancer. The nurses who usually worked for the day shift had 58% lesser chance of having breast cancer compared to the nurses who worked in night shifts. An assistant professor at Sichuan University, described in his paper that the longer the woman worked in night shift, the higher the risk get for her to get breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer is increasing 3.3% for every five years of night shift work.

The Causes behind this:

  • Nurses who worked in night shift, basically were from a medical background and most of the time they have to undergo screening examination. So, they have a maximum chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Other studies show that heavy diet, less physical activity and irregular sleep habits are the main reasons for cancer for a woman who works in night shifts for a longer duration. Disruption in hormone levels might also be one of the reasons behind cancer. Generally, the level of melatonin will rise at night in response to darkness. When people remain awake under artificial light, these levels are suppressed. Because of this, important processes such as fat and sugar metabolism, inflammation, immune functions get out of balance, creating fertile ground for heart disease and cancer.
  • A normal sleep cycle is in-built for all of us. If disturbances occur in that sleep cycle then that will affect the genes that are responsible for repairing DNA, which could be the reason of abnormal growing of cells that become cancerous.
  • Being active at night and asleep during the day changes the body’s natural rhythms which may have a harmful effect when these things happen repeatedly.

Sleep is a critical biological function that reloads and renovates the important bodily functions. People who do not think of giving rest to brain and body are not doing justice to their health as studies show night shift workers are cutting short their life with unusual hours of work. So take rest at night and stay healthy!