Do Women Working Irregular Night Shifts Have an Increase Risk of Type 2 Diabetes?

A new study published online in the journal PLoS Medicine concluded that women who work an irregular shift schedule including three or more night shifts a month in addition to days and evenings in the same month may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to women who work only days or evenings.

Researchers analyzed data on move than 69,260 U.S. women ages 42 to 67, tracked between 1988 and 2008 and another 107,915 women ages 25 to 42 tracked between 1989 and 2007. The study subjects were part of the Nurses Health Study Part I and Part II respectively. Around 60% of the nurses performed more than one year of irregular shifts at the baseline. About 11% of the nurses in Study I had more than 10 years of irregular night shifts and in study II about 4% worked more than 10 years of the irregular night shift. Researchers found that the longer women worked on irregular night shifts the higher their probability of type 2 diabetes. Thus, those working 3 to 9 years had a 20% increased risk; those working 10 to 19 years had a 40% risk, and those working irregular shifts over 20 years had 68% risk for type 2 diabetes. When their data was adjusted for body weight the increased risk continued but at a lower risk level. The author said the increased risk seen was partly a result of increased weight. However, The awareness of the relationship of increased risk for diabetes among irregular night shift workers shows the importance of lifestyle and diet changes. The researchers also noted that these findings need to be confirmed in men and ethnic groups.

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