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Study links shift work to cognitive impairment


The study findings suggest a potential link between shift work exposure and cognitive function impairment. Photo: dayamay, Pixabay, CC0 

Toronto — Middle-aged and older adults who have worked the night shift or rotating shifts are significantly more likely to experience cognitive impairment, results of a recent study suggest.

Researchers from York University analyzed data from nearly 48,000 people 45-85 years old in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. The information included employment experience, work schedules and results of cognitive functioning tests.

Around 1 out of 5 participants reported a career history with shift work. Of those, workers whose current job included night shifts had a 79% higher rate of cognitive impairment than other workers. The participants who worked night shifts during their longest job had a 53% higher rate.

The researchers say circadian rhythm disruption caused by shift work may play a role. However, they stress that more research is needed “to confirm the association between shift work and cognitive impairment as well as any physiological pathways that underlie the mechanism.”

The study was published online in the journal PLOS One.

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