A new study proves that people who work in shifts and do not have a regular sleep schedule face a much higher chance of developing certain forms of cancer.
The researchers carried out experiments on mice and found that the ones which did not sleep at the same intervals had a stronger likelihood to get cancer. Moreover, they were 20 percent heavier, in spite of the fact that they ate the same type and amount of food.
According to the experts, women who have jobs that require working in shifts, such as flight attendants, are more prone to having breast cancer than people who sleep based on a regular schedule.
This is why the general advice for women whose families had a history of breast cancer is that they should never work in shifts. However, the researchers admit that further research needs to be done before classifying this as a more than a hypothesis.
The explanation they gave for this is related to the circadian disruption. This refers to our internal body clock, that has its own rhythm that should be respected. If we fail to do that, our natural processes get confused and we are more likely to suffer from illnesses.
During the trial, the researchers chose mice that were more inclined to develop breast cancer and modified their body clocks by delaying them by 12 hours every week for 12 months. After less than a year, they saw that many of them had tumors no matter how they slept, but the ones which had their sleep disturbed developed tumors after only two months.
There are health experts, such as Dr. Michael Hastings, with the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom, who support this theory:
“I consider this study to give the definitive experimental proof, in mouse models, that circadian disruption can accelerate the development of breast cancer. 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,” he stated.
Nevertheless, even if the study brings strong evidence regarding both the role genetics plays in the development of breast cancer and how irregular sleep patterns can influence it, other experts said that further trials need to be carried out. These trials should include humans and not animals, because there are many significant differences.
The results of the study were published in the journal Current Biology.
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