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Rotating Shift Work May Boost Women's Diabetes Risk
Date:12/6/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Working rotating night shifts may do more than leave you tired; it may also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, new research finds.

A study of two groups of women found that those who worked rotating night shifts were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women with regular hours, and the longer that they worked a rotating shift schedule, the greater their risk.

"The association is quite strong and very consistent between the two cohorts," said the study's senior author, Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

"For nurses who spent a couple of years working rotating night shifts, there was a minimal increase in risk. But, for those with a very long duration of rotating shifts, the risk was almost 60 percent higher. This provides pretty strong evidence that the longer the rotating night shift work, the greater the risk of diabetes," Hu said.

Results of the study are published in the December issue of PLoS Medicine.

Rotating shift work is becoming more common, according to background information in the study. Several studies have found a link between these varying or unusual work schedules and obesity and metabolic syndrome (a group of symptoms, such as high blood pressure and insulin resistance, linked to a higher risk of heart disease). Both factors are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Recently, a few studies on Japanese men found a link between working the night shift and type 2 diabetes, according to the study.

For the current study, rotating shift work was defined as working three or more nights a month, plus days and evenings. Hu and his team looked at data from two groups of women involved in the U.S. Nurses' Health Studies I and II. There were more than 69,000 women between the ages of 42 and 67 in t
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