An international study has revealed that type 2 diabetes is more common among people that work shifts.
The study indicates that both men and women that work in rotating shifts are more likely to get the disease. Although the researchers are not entirely sure, it is thought that working in shifts can disrupt a person’s biological clock, which can lead to a number of health problems.
“Physicians have long known that working shifts disrupts many key body chemicals, creating a ripple effect that can lead to ailments such as gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease and even cancer,” said Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Now type 2 diabetes can be added to this considerable list.”
For the study, researchers at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China looked at 12 previously completed studies, which held data on 226,652 people. That data included where the people worked, their BMI levels, and if diabetes runs in their families.
In the end, the researchers concluded that type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among those who work in shifts. Workers that have rotating nighttime and daytime shifts have an increased risk of 42 percent. Men alone have a risk increase of 35 percent.
“The result suggests that male shift workers should pay more attention to the prevention of diabetes,” wrote the researchers. “Given the increasing prevalence of shift work worldwide and the heavy economic burden of diabetes, the results of our study provide practical and valuable clues for the prevention of diabetes.”
One possible explanation for this huge risk increase for type 2 diabetes could be that working in shifts changes when a person eats. If a person eats late at night, the body is more prone to store that energy as fat, which can increase the risk of obesity and eventually type 2 diabetes.
The researchers noted that people who work in shifts should be aware of the risks, and should take certain precautions.
“These findings suggest that shift workers need to be aware of their personal risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Alasdair Rankin, from the charity Diabetes UK, said. “They can do this by taking a type 2 diabetes risk assessment, either online or in their local pharmacy.
“The best way to reduce your risk of type 2 is to maintain a healthy weight through regular physical activity and by eating a healthy balanced diet.”
The research was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.