A new study suggests that shift work is linked to Type 2 Diabetes especially in men. Those people who are at an increased risk work different schedules with shifts beginning and ending at various times of the day.
The study was led by Zuxun Lu of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China. The researchers analyzed data from 12 different international studies that involved more than 226,000 people.
Shift Work Linked to Type 2 Diabetes
Workers’ shift schedules, body mass index, (BMI) family history of diabetes and their physical activity were taken into account. The results did not show specific cause and effect relationships but the researchers found that any amount of shift work was linked to a 9 percent greater risk for developing diabetes. They also found that men, who engaged in shift work, had a 37% increased risk for diabetes.
The researchers believe that testosterone levels play a role in the gender risk difference. Previously, studies showed a relationship between testosterone levels and insulin resistance and diabetes. Lu’s team of researchers explained that the “daytime” levels of the male hormone are regulated by the body’s internal clock and erratic work schedules make establishing a sleep-wke cycle more problematic. In addition, Poor sleep patterns may worsen insulin resistance which is a precursor to diabetes. The study showed that rotating shift work was linked to a 42% greater risk for diabetes
Dr. Alan Manevitz who is a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City commented, “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. Now Type 2 Diabetes can be added to this considerable list.”
Previous studies have also linked shift work to weight gain and obesity, a big risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes. And research has shown that shift work can also affect cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Dr. Gerald Bernstein, director of the Diabetes Management Program at Friedman Diabetes Institute at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City stated, “Growth hormone, known to elevate blood glucose when present in excess, peaks at 1 a.m. Shift work also often makes it more difficult to schedule regular meals and exercise.”
Dr. Alan Manevitz suggested, “Those who must do shift work would be wise to consult their doctor, who can monitor cholesterol levels, blood pressure and insulin levels to detect if blood sugar levels are creeping up dangerously. Doctors may also be able to prescribe sleep aids to help shift workers get the proper amount of sleep, even if that sleep comes during odd hours.”