A new study of 100,000 women in the UK has found no evidence that night shift work increases the risk of breast cancer.
A new study involving a huge number of people in the UK has concluded that women who regularly work night shifts do not have an increased risk of breast cancer. This contradicts suggestions that have been around since the 1970’s that working irregular hours at night may contribute to an increased chance of developing the disease.
Several limited studies involving both people and animals have previously supported the conclusion that there is a link even leading to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declaring that shift work that disrupted normal circadian rhythms was ‘probably carcinogenic’ in 2007.
This increased risk was proposed to be due to exposure of light at night disrupting the body’s internal clock and leading to abnormal levels of estrogen and sleep hormone, melatonin. But significant scientific evidence about any of this has, until now, been lacking.
The new research published today in the British Journal of Cancer by scientists at the Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) in London, U.K., studied over 100,000 women as part of the Breast Cancer Now generations study over a period of almost ten years to see which of them developed breast cancer and whether those who did night shift work were more likely to be diagnosed than those who did not.
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