Study finds that working shifts may increase the risk of developing diabetes in nurses

Examining the association between rotating shift work (≥3 nights/month plus days and evenings) and Type 2 diabetes among 177,000 female nurses aged 25–67 (the Nurses' Health Study), this large-scale study revealed a graded association between the duration of working life the nurses had been engaged in shift work and risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Compared with women who reported no shift work, participants with 1–2 years of shift work had a 5% excess risk of T2D, rising to 20% after 3–9 years, 40% after 10–19 years, and almost 60% for ≥20 years. These data, which were based on a long follow-up, are in agreement with previous smaller-scale studies. The studies conclude that additional efforts to prevent diabetes among shift workers through promotion of healthy lifestyles, weight control, and early identification and treatment of prediabetic and diabetic employees are needed, and modifications to shift work itself. Rotating shift work comprises a range of alternative schedule patterns, such as backward- and forward-rotating shift systems, and the proportion of night and early morning shifts varies, future studies should address these variations and identify patterns that minimize the risk.

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