DEA News
Return to News Home

Flight attendants and shift workers are at higher risk of developing breast cancer

A study hints that irregular sleeping patterns could give rise to cancer in tests conducted on mice.

Daily Times Gazette, Jul 21, 2015

Sleep is of essence as it plays an important role on having good health and well-being. Having enough quality sleep at right times can aid you safeguard your mental and physical health as well as help you secure quality life and safety.

The furnished report in Current Biology sheds light on the detrimental effect of shifting work on one’s health.

The research team stated that women whose family has history of breast cancer should shun away from working on shifts, but warned that further tests in people were needed.

The data would also imply that the mice were heavier by 20% regardless of eating the same amount of food.

The study also found that people working in shifts and flight attendants are at higher risk of diseases like breast cancer.

It is still vague whether the interruption of the body’s internal (or body clock) heightens the breast cancer risk. The connection, however, is not yet clear since the kind of individual who works on shift may also possibly develop cancer because of other linked parameters like levels of activity, social class or the amount of vitamin D they obtain.

The mice that are susceptible to developing breast cancer had body clock that lagged 12 hours behind weekly for one year.

Usually the mice developed tumours after 50 weeks but with steady disruption to their sleeping patterns, the tumours surfaced out after just 42 weeks.

The report noted, “This is the first study that unequivocally shows a link between chronic light-dark inversions and breast cancer development.”

Establishing the connection to humans can be intricate, but the researchers reckoned the corresponding effect could be an added 10kg (1st 8lb) of body weight or for women at-risk of developing cancer is about five years earlier.

Conclusive experimental evidence

Gijsbetus van der Horst, from the Erasmus University Medical Centre and who happens to be one of the researchers said that, “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.”

Dr. Michael Hastings, joint head of the Division of Neurobiology of Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the UK said to the BBC, “I consider this study to give the definitive experimental proof, in mouse models, that circadian [body clock] disruption can accelerate the development of breast cancer.

“The general public health message coming out of my area of work is shift work, particularly rotational shift work is a stress and therefore it has consequences.

“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.

“If we’re going to do it, then let’s keep an eye on people and inform them.”

Return to News Home