Women on the night shift

No, it’s nothing dirty.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  Thanks to the fantastic site tingilinde, I saw this little article on the effect of working night shift on a woman’s body.  In particular, the increased risk of breast cancer.  Very briefly, the study mentioned in the article suggests that nighttime exposure to light interferes with the body’s production of melatonin, since this primarily occurs at night.  This alteration in melatonin production might increase the risk of breast cancer.

A woman’s blood provides better sustenance for breast cancer just after she’s been exposed to bright light than when she’s been in steady darkness, researchers led by David E. Blask of the Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, N.Y., report.

“Light at night is now clearly a risk factor for breast cancer,” Blask says. “Breast tumors are awake during the day, and melatonin puts them to sleep at night.” Add artificial light to the night environment, and “cancer cells become insomniacs,” he says.

“Sleep per se is not important for melatonin,” says Russel J. Reiter, a neuroendocrinologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. “But darkness is.”

Read the whole article for more details.  Very interesting reading.