Working Rotating Shifts May Heighten Your Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

First Posted: Jul 28, 2014 11:59 AM EDT

Do you have shift work? Then you may be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Scientists have found that those working rotating shift patterns have a heightened chance of developing the disease.

Rotating shifts involve people working different parts of the 24-hour cycle on a regular basis rather than a fixed pattern. This can make it harder for people to adjust to a regular sleep-wake cycle and it's possible that a lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep, may impact a person's health.

In previous studies, researchers have shown that there may be a link between working shifts and several health problems, including digestive disorders, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease. In this case, though, scientists wanted to see if it was the same for the development of diabetes.

In order to find out, the scientists looked through scientific research databases for relevant observational studies assessing associations between shift work and diabetes risk. In the end, they retrieved 12 international studies out of a potential total of 448, involving more than 226,500 participants.

In the end, the researchers found that any period of shift work was associated with a 9 percent increased risk of developing diabetes compared with working normal office hours. This heightened risk rose to 37 percent for men. This could be due to the fact that daytime levels of testosterone are controlled by the internal body clock.

The findings reveal that rotating shifts could be contributing to the amount of people with type 2 diabetes. With an estimated 380 million people predicted to have the disease by 2015, this new study highlights modifiable factors that could play a role when it comes to lowering the amount of people with the condition.

The findings are published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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