New research suggests that working the graveyard shift doesn’t increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer.
In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement that working the night shift likely increased a woman’s risk of breast cancer, which was based on studies of animals and people.
This new study, which was funded by the UK Health and Safety Executive, Cancer Research UK and the UK Medical Research Council, combed the data of 10 different studies from the UK, Netherlands, USA China and Sweden to determine the validity of this claim.
After careful review, scientists found that there was no correlation with working overnight and developing breast cancer as compared to women who work traditional hours.
There was also no correlation for woman who had worked overnight shifts for a couple of decades or longer.
Dr. Ruth Travis of the University of Oxford, who led the study, stated:
“We found that women who had worked night shifts, including long-term night shifts, were not more likely to develop breast cancer, either in the three new UK studies or when we combined results from all 10 studies that had published relevant data.”
According to the research, a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer was almost identical, regardless of if she spent time considerable time working graveyard shifts or not.
Originally, it was theorized that breast cancer was more prevalent in women who worked nights because it led to a disruption in the internal body clock. This incorrect assertion was made by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
And while doing shift work does not account for an increase in breast cancer, study leaders warn that it is still one of the most common cancers in the world.
According to statistics, 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. About 246,000 cases of what is known as invasive breast cancer is diagnosed in women in the United States each year. The United Kingdom sees about 53,000 new cases each year.
Researchers say that while working the night shift doesn’t have an impact on a breast cancer diagnosis, they do recommend that women cut back on alcohol, exercise regularly and keep to a healthy weight.