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Prolonged shift work increases risk of heart disease

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FEMA agents on the night shift. Working the night shift upsets the circadian rhythm, and induces numerous adverse health effects.

FEMA agents on the night shift. Working the night shift upsets the circadian rhythm, and induces numerous adverse health effects.

Working the night shift could raise your risk for heart disease, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA.

This is especially so when the rotating night shifts take place over a period of years, and exacerbates significantly from five years on. Rotating night shifts as used here were defined as working at least 3 nights a month, in addition to sticking to a daytime work schedule.

The researchers from Brigham & Women’s Hospital (Boston) used data from two long term studies spanning a period of 24 years and involving slightly over 189,000 nurses to draw this conclusion.

The risk for developing a heart disease rose by 15 to 18% among those who had rotating night shifts, as compared to nurses who didn’t.

Fortunately, these adverse risks seem to reverse after one stops taking night shifts.

“We saw a modest increased risk of heart disease associated with longer duration of rotating night shift work, which appears to wane after stopping shift work,” according to Dr. Celine Vetter, the lead researcher of the study.

While the study has noted some deficits in its model, its finding resonates with past studies that demonstrate a strong correlation between night shifts and deteriorating health, mental and physical.

Shift work has been shown to impair cognitive function, so much so that in people who’ve been doing it for 10 or more years, the state of brain health is equivalent to aging 6.5 more years.

Shift work has been linked to a higher rate of Type 2 Diabetes and cancer.

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