Study finds link between night shift workers, diabetes

December 7, 2011

Boston – Working irregular night shifts may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women, indicates new research from the Harvard School of Public Health.

An analysis of data on more than 177,000 nurses showed a higher risk among women who work three or more night shifts a month along with day and evening hours, according to a study abstract. That risk increased with time on the night shift.

Women who worked the night shift for 3 to 9 years had a 20 percent higher risk of diabetes; women with 10 to 19 years faced a 40 percent increase in risk, and women with more than 20 years were almost 60 percent more at risk, according to an HSPH press release. Working rotating night shifts also was associated with weight gain, which may contribute to diabetes risk.

The study appeared online Dec. 6 in the journal PLoS Medicine.