Night shifts not good for healthy aging, study finds

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In a study from Wenzhou Medical University, scientists found rotating night shift work is linked to a decreased probability of healthy aging among U.S. female nurses.

Night shift work disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms or 24-hour internal “clock” that controls sleep-wake cycles. It increases the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Previous studies have shown that eating at night, as many nightshift workers do, impairs the body’s ability to process sugar, or glucose.

These disruptions can also make the body susceptible to oxidative stress and neural damage.

Other studies have found that people who work night shifts are at increased risk of developing an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation.

In the study, the team examined whether rotating night shift work is associated with healthy aging over 24 years of follow-up.

The analysis included 46,318 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study (aged 46 to 68 years in 1988).

The team found that compared with women who never worked rotating night shifts, the chance of achieving healthy aging strongly decreased with increasing duration of night shift work. Results were similar across ages and lifestyles.

The team says because an increasing proportion of the working population is involved in rotating night shift work, their findings further highlight the importance of understanding the association of night shift work with human health.

More studies are needed to confirm the current findings in men and other ethnic populations.

If you care about aging, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19 and death, and the MIND diet may help lower the death risk in older people.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that sleep is a new 8th measure of heart health, and results showing vitamin D supplements strongly reduces the risk of cancer death.

The study was conducted by Hongying Shi et al and published in JAMA Network Open.

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