Shift Workers Face Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Source:  BBC Health Article A recent large international research project has identified that Type 2 Diabetes is more in common in people who work shifts. The study was published in Occupatioal and Environmetal Medice and the results showed that both men and people who are working rotating shifts are at higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Shift workers become more at risk due to disruption to the body clock affecting waistlines, hormones and sleep.  All of these increase increase the risk of diabetes. Studies were carried out in sleep laboratories which show that making people sleep at the wrong time of day caused the onset of the early stages of Type 2 Diabetes within weeks. In the UK, 45 out of every 1,000 adults have some form of diabetes, primarily Type 2.  Diabetes can cause numerous other problems, such as blindness, increased risk of heart attacks, stroke and can also damage nerves and blood vessels. The study carried out at Huazhaong University of Science and Technology in China showed that shift workers were 9% more likely to have Type 2 Diabetes.  For men, the figure was 35%, however, adding alternating shift patterns increased the risk to 42%. Possible reasons for shift working causing such an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes include disrupted sleeping and eating patterns.  One idea is that eating late at night makes the body more prone to store energy as fat, increasing the risk of obesity and in turn, diabetes.  As these studies, are only looking at one shapshot in time, it isn’t  possible to say definitely that shift work causes diabetes.  There may be other factors that play a part in this. Researchers suggest that the result of these studies suggest that male shift workers in particular should pay more attention to the prevention of diabetes and be more educated to recognise the signs of diabetes.  There are easy ways for everyone to make themselves aware of their own personal risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, such as taking risk assessments either on-line or at their local pharmacy. Overall, the best ways to reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise and having a balanced diet. Professor Nick Wareham from the University of Cambridge has commented on these studies saying that any effects are moderate, and that “the key question would be to identify what intervetions could be put in place to alleviate the risks in those who work shifts”.