Shift Work/cancer Link Yet to Be Verified

COLOGNE, Germany, Oct. 12 (UPI) — A researcher in Germany says the suspected link between shift work and cancer deserves further scientific exploration.

Thomas Erren of the University of Cologne in Germany says there is evidence pointing to shift work causing cancer but more information is needed.


It is well known short-term disturbances of circadian rhythms — such as jet lag — can impair a person’s sense of well-being, Erren says, but researchers only recently have began asking whether chronic disruption of biological rhythms over the long-term might promote cancer.

“The findings of the laboratory experiments performed to date in animals and cell preparations lend plausibility to the postulated link between shift work and cancer, yet there is still no answer to the central question whether these findings are applicable to humans,” Erren and colleagues say in a statement.

In an article, published in Deutsches Arzteblatt International, Erren and colleagues make the case that a connection between shift work and cancer may not yet be definitively established but there is enough information for recasting shift work in light of insights from occupational medicine and chronobiology.

The authors note in 2008, 38 Danish night shift workers received compensation after gaining recognition of their breast cancer as an occupational illness.

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