A new Dutch study looked at how changing the circadian rhythm and consequently insufficient sleep may increase the chance of cancer, particularly for shift-workers.
Flight attendants, women, and with a history of breast cancer in their family are one of the examples that the researchers offer to analysis. Particularly, the Dutch research, conducted on mice aimed at understanding the effect that circadian rhythm disturbance (CRD) and alternating light cycles may have on boosting cancer cell growth.
Other studies have previously indicated that due to CRD, the risk of breast cancer is more obvious for shift-workers, particularly people who work night shifts consistently. Lack of sunlight exposure, changing the sleep patters, lack of proper and sufficient sleep and lack of adequate nutrition are contributing factors associated with CRD and the increased chances for cancer developing.
The study manipulated the circadian rhythm of the mice by delaying their sleep by 12 hours each week. Some of the mice have been observed in a stable light/dark environment. The second group was observed under alternating light cycles.
Typically the first cancer cells would appear in mice within 50 weeks of an experiment conducive to this disease. This time around, the second group of mice was found to have developed the cancer cells as much as eight weeks previous. A total of 80 percent of the mice that had CRD developed cancer following the experiment.
Not only did the alternating of light cycles and CRD have an effect on boosting cancer cell growth, but also led to a 20 percent increase in weight.
Considering the results, the Dutch researchers stated that women who have a family history of cancer could be heavily affected by alternating light cycles and CRD. Shift-swinging, particularly working the night shift and not insufficient sleep increases the chances of breast cancer significantly.
“If you had a situation where a family is at risk for breast cancer, I would certainly advise those people not to work as a flight attendant or to do shift work. There are things people should be looking out for – pay more attention to your body weight, pay more attention to inspecting breasts, and employers should offer more in-work health checks”.
said Gijsbetus van der Horst, researcher at the Erasmus University Medical Centre.
The study features in the journal Current Biology.
Photo Credits publicbroadcasting.net