Melatonin is known to have cancer-protective properties, and shift work can induce desynchrony of the circadian system, reducing melatonin production. Shift work has been thought to have important health impacts, with evidence linking shift work to an increased risk of several cancers including breast, endometrial, prostate, and colorectal, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In a recent study, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) found that shift work may be associated with a reduced risk of skin cancer in women. These findings are published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“Shift work has been associated with increased risk of certain cancers and chronic non-malignant diseases such as gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes,” said lead study author Eva Schernhammer, MD, DrPh, a researcher in the Channing Laboratory at BWH. “However, while shift work has been associated with other cancers, the risk of skin cancer among night-shift workers is unknown.”