New research from the University of Quebec has found that men who work night shifts are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than day-shift workers.
The research comes on the back of previous research that showed women who worked nights were more likely to develop breast cancer. Male night-shift workers were also at greater risk of developing other cancers, such as cancer of the bladder, bowel and lungs.
Production of the hormone melatonin is suppressed when men work nights. The hormone is produced by the pineal gland in the brain, and a lack of it is known to raise the risk of tumors.
As the recession continues, more and more workers are being asked to work more flexible hours across the US. Failure to take on night shifts when asked by stretched employers can lead to redundancy, so many more workers are now taking on disrupted shift patterns including more night shifts.
The University of Quebec study is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The Quebec researchers studied 3,137 men who had been diagnosed with cancer and compared them to 500 men without the disease.
The results were startling and frightening for those men who work regular night shifts. It showed that night-shift working doubled the risk of bowel cancer and almost tripled the risk of prostate cancer.
The longer a man had worked night shifts, the greater the risk of developing cancer becomes. The men at greatest risk had all worked night shifts for 10 years or more.
Sources and more on this story: