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A Dark Side of the Night Shift

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If you’re a woman, and work the night shift, listen up.

A new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looked at shift work habits of more than two thousand women, 1,000 of whom had breast cancer, and 1,000 who did not.

This Canadian study found women who worked the night shift for 30 years or more had twice the risk of getting breast cancer.

Why this link? Researchers think melatonin production plays a role. Melatonin is a hormone produced in response to darkness. Many believe melatonin has antioxidant properties that may help protect against cancer cell growth. Since night shift workers are exposed to light during the hours of darkness, researchers believe they may not produce enough melatonin to provide that protection.

Another theory: Low Vitamin D.

Some studies suggest that adequate Vitamin D may have a role in preventing cancer. Vitamin D is produced by the skin when exposed to the sun. So if you work at night and sleep during the day, that doesn’t happen.

No definite cause and effect have been determined. But this is a wake-up call for women who work the night shift.

Make sure you get regular breast cancer screening. Don’t miss your mammogram!