Working night shift increases the risk of cancer
People who work in night shifts have a greater risk of dying from cancer and heart diseases. Working in the graveyard shift can also make a person more prone to various illnesses like diabetes, obesity, eye problems, depression, and many others.
According to various studies, working overnight causes hormonal imbalances resulting in higher chances of breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and heart attacks.
A study in the International Journal of Cancer says that working in the night shift for more than five years raises the risk of breast cancer in women by 30 percent. On the other hand, working for more than 15 years in the graveyard shift also causes lung cancer.
People who do not work in the typical 9 to 5 shift are also found to have a higher risk of lung cancer and other cardiovascular diseases.
Working overnight disrupts the circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) imposing strain on the body and leading to various chronic diseases like constipation, ulcers, diarrhea, and loss of appetite when compared with those working in the daytime.
Night shifts not only makes people sleep-deprived and disrupts the body clock but also affects the person’s memory and ability to focus.
Depressed mood, weak physic, irritable behavior, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, increasing weight are the most common health effects caused by the graveyard shift.
Our body is synchronized to night and day by the circadian clock of our brain, but shift workers confuse the circadian clock by working when the body is actually programmed to be sleeping.
The sleep-wake cycle appears to have evolved for humans to be awake during the day and to sleep for around eight hours at night.
Shift works also disrupt the effect of the hormone called melatonin which regulates sleep and is released by your brain. Melatonin levels remain high during the night which signals the body to fall asleep, but the levels drop at daybreak making it hard for night shift workers to sleep during the day.
It is difficult for night shift workers to keep the sleep environment dark, free of noise and cool during the day due to which they get two to three hours less sleep than other workers.
Thus, disruption to the circadian rhythm of the body in night shift workers acts as a probable carcinogen causing various types of cancer.