Shift Work Could Increase Diabetes Risk

The hours you work could put you more at risk for diabetes. I recently did some interviews about a new study that shows working rotating shifts puts  people at a much higher risk for developing the disease.

The new study from Harvard shows a strong link between working a swing shift and developing type II diabetes, especially if you’re a woman. (Click here to watch my video) The in-depth study looked at the health of 240,000 women over a 20-year period. The study found that those who worked odd and irregular hours for long periods of time were at a 60 percent greater risk for developing diabetes.

Jeri Lynn Tagg told me that she loves her work at a hospital, but she hasn’t always loved the hours. When Tagg heard about the diabetes risk study results, she said she wasn’t surprised She developed diabetes during her pregnancy. “I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. And then, after I had Adam, it went away for four-and-a-half or five years. Then it came back,” Tagg said.

When it came back, Tagg said she finally requested not to work the rotating overnight shifts. “You just felt so terrible,” Tagg said.

Dr Kamala Rajupet

Dr Kamala Rajupet

“What they saw was in nurses who were doing at three, three-night shifts per month, in addition to day and evening shifts. They were at a higher risk for developing type II diabetes”, said Dr. Kamala Rajupet of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Forbes Regional Hospital.

The study was headed by Dr. Frank Hu, of Harvard. Hu’s group found that after just a decade of shift work, the risk of developing diabetes for women is 40 percent greater. After 20 years or more, that risk skyrocketed to 60 percent.

Now, researchers are looking for a more precise reason for that jump. Doctors speculate stress on the body from three things; poor eating habits, disrupting the body’s circadian rhythm sleep cycle and not getting enough sleep, may be to blame.

For those who have to work swing shifts, doctors say there are preventative measures workers can take. “I think the key is to try to be as disciplined as possible in terms of a healthy lifestyle in spite of the change in the shifts,” Rajupet said. “You have to be very strict on what you do, when you eat, what you eat (at) what times. It’s very, very important.”

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