Men who work nights are almost three times as likely to develop prostate cancer as those who do day shifts, new research shows.
They are also at much greater risk of a number of other types of cancer, with higher rates of tumours in the bowel, bladder and lungs.
Previous studies have found women working night shifts are more susceptible to breast cancer.
The latest investigation, by a team of researchers at the University of Quebec, suggests men are affected in the same way and that the effects are seen in a wide range of cancers.
Night shifts are thought to harm the body through the suppression of melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain that helps regulate when we sleep and when we wake.
The findings come at a time when flexible working patterns are being deployed on a larger scale than ever before in the UK.
Around 3.6 million people – or around 14 per cent of the working population – regularly work shifts.
In the latest study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers studied 3,137 men who had been diagnosed with cancer and compared them to 500 men without the disease.
The researchers found night shifts almost trebled the risk of prostate cancer and doubled a man's chances of bowel cancer.
Night workers were also 76 per cent more likely to suffer lung cancer and 70 per cent more at risk of a tumour in the bladder.
For prostate, bowel and bladder cancer, the dangers were greatest among those who had worked nights for at least ten years.
Nearly 40,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK and 10,000 men die from it – the equivalent of more than one an hour. Bowel cancer, meanwhile, affects around 41,000 people a year, half of them men.
— Last Edited by Dixie at 2012-10-23 08:30:28 —