Working the Night Shift With an Unhealthy Lifestyle Raises Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Rotating night-shift work together with an unhealthy lifestyle significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, researchers say.


“Most cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by adherence to a healthy lifestyle, and the benefits could be larger in rotating night-shift workers,” said study authors led by Zhilei Shan. He is a nutrition researcher at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

The new study was published Nov. 21 in the BMJ.

The researchers noted that previous studies have shown smoking, a poor diet, inactivity, and being overweight/obese increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Shift work has also been linked with an increased risk, the investigators added in a journal news release.

But the authors said they believe this is the first study to examine the combined effect of an unhealthy lifestyle and shift work on type 2 diabetes risk. The results show it’s especially important for shift workers to follow a healthy lifestyle.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 143,000 U.S. women who did not have type 2 diabetes, heart disease or cancer when they enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHS II in 1976 and 1989.

Over 22 to 24 years of follow-up, nearly 11,000 of the women were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. For every five years of working rotating night shifts, there was a 31 percent higher risk of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

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SOURCE: HealthDay, Robert Preidt