Dec 1, 2007

[Health] Graveyards Shifts May Cause Cancer

Flickr: jpmatth - Fluorescent Flat, Caffiene Lights
Fluorescent Flat, Caffiene Lights
by jpmatth.

Cancer is a big mystery for the minds of many folks out there, medical practioners and common people alike. No one definitely knows what causes cancer in it all of its varied forms but over time we have developed various lists of things and circumstances which may lead to cancer.

Most popular items on the menu remain to be smoking, excessive exposure to UV rays, alcohol. There are disagreements over over possible contributing factors like caffeine, artificial sweeteners and watching too much TV even.

Now another circumstance is entering the picture of possbily being tagged as a carcinogen - working at night. Oh boy.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), has announced that in its journal next month it will be listing overnight work as a possible carcinogen. The American Cancer Society has also indicated it will most likely follow suit with a similar announcement.

While it doesn't mean that simply working at night alone is a definite cause for cancer, the studies conducted do show that there's certainly something affecting many night shift workers that does statistically indicate an increased likelihood for developing breast and prostate cancer.

They don't know for sure what aspects of working at night contribute to this although many believe that the disruption of our natural biological clocks / circadian rhythm is probably a root cause in these cases. Another consideration is the body's ability to create melatonin, a hormone used to suppress tumor development, since this hormone is primarily created by the body at night.

It's an unsettling thought in some ways given an estimated 20% of the world's population work at night. To add insult to injury, I'm admitedly one of them given I work in the call center industry here and my family has a pretty significant history of various cancers. Cross your fingers for now, I guess.

Does it mean we all need to change how we live? Well, that's ultimately up to the individual. Given thousands of people still get involved with known carcinogens like cigarette smoke, diesel fumes and raw sunlight, I doubt this is going to radically change things immediately. I'm curious to see where this avenue of research will go and what other discoveries they might have along the way to better explain why working the night shift leads to an increased likelihood for developing cancer.

1 comment:

  1. May delayed sleep phased disorder ako. Pakiramdam ko umaga pag gabi. Apektado kaya ako kung sakali mang totoo yan?